By DAPO OLAWUNI
When the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in January decided to reopen the Ijora Truck Transit Park, port operators where excited that solution is finally come to problems of traffic gridlock and their endless sufferings on Apapa roads.
Recall that the NPA recently reopened the Lillypond transit park after months of being shut down as a result of clash between the police and truck drivers over allegation of extortion.
The NPA uses the transit park to operate a manual call up system for trucks going into Apapa port to load cargo.
When the park was reopened, expectation of many operators was that the bribery, extortion and bickering between the Presidential Task Team, NPA operatives, Police and the truck drivers has been resolved.
But fresh investigations by DAILY TREND NEWS has revealed that the problem at the truck park was far from over.
The situation at Ijora truck park has not ameliorated traffic gridlock in Apapa, the corruption is now like the “the more you look, the less you see”
Also, available statistics have proven that setting up task forces is not the solution to Apapa gridlock, several task forces that have been formed in the past have come and gone, and they have brought about more chaos to the system.
The last task force was the Presidential Task Team on Restoration of Law and Order set up by President Muhammadu Buhari and headed by Comrade Kayode Opeifa.
Recent findings have shown that there is so much secrecy that has enveloped the admiting of trucks into the ports through the Transit Parks at lilypond terminal at Ijora Lagos and Tincan Island Port.
Speaking with DAILY TREND NEWS, Chairman of Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMARTO) Chief Remi Ogungbemi said that one of the recipe for a lasting solution at these Transit parks is that there must be a template that should be made known to all stakeholders on how trucks are parked, because the call system being operated is no longer effective.
Surprisingly, truck owners and drivers themselves are the major perpetrators of the corruption at these Transit parks.
Many of the stakeholders are benefiting from the crisis in Apapa and they dont want the traffic to end.
One of the truckers, Comrade Bibire Abanise who spoke with our correspondent lamented that “Even among us as truckers, some of us are benefitting and conniving with some people , they collect money under the guise of unionism”
“There are so many truckers union available now, some call themselves COMTUA, NARTO, AMARTO, RTEAN and so on, all they do is to use these associations to curry selfish favours for themselves and make money.
Meanwhile, unionism is just to assist members whenever they have problems, but many of them are doing selfish interests”
“Most of the associations believe that thugry and violence is the only way to get results” he lamented
Another trucker who identified himself as Mr. Salau lamented that calling of trucks into Ijora Lillypond Terminal is now based on man know man.
He said that mong the truckers, they collect tags and trade it for a price.
He said that though the police and NPA also have a role to play, but most of the problems is being caused by the truckers themselves.
“When you talk of extortion, the police and NPA officials have never deep their hands into anybody’s pockets, truckers are the ones giving them money so that trucker number 20 can become numer 1 on the queue, all these is because of our impatience”
Most importantly, the NPA, the Presidetial Task Team headed by Kayode Opeifa, the various truckers unions and the police must be informed that the system they are operating at the truck transit parks has become obsolete, it’s an old fashion that can’t work anymore.
Many things has changed, population has increased tremendously, goods coming into the ports has increased, then the system must change in corroboration with the increases.
Also, haulage system in Nigeria has been left in the hands of touts.
According to the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers Council, Barrister Hassan Bello, there is a need to regulate the haulage industry by way of integration. He advocated for a single company that would be easy to regulate by the government.
Chief Remi Ogungbemi is one of the biggest players in the Nigerian haulage sector. He however told our correspondent that “I have decided not to interfare on this matter any longer, but many truckers have accused me of abandoning them and subjecting them to the whims and caprices of the associations”
“From my end, i have resolved to be more concerned about solutions. We have gotten one of which we have started sensitising members on it, arrangement is ongoing to present same to the authorities for consideration and implementation ”
“However, we are not unaware of some individual or group that are benefiting from the secrecy, chaotic and rotten system” he said.