By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Lagos State Government through its State Environmental Task Force on Tuesday destroyed shanties around the Tin Can Island Port, saying that the area belongs to the state government and that it is ready to develop it.
Maritime stakeholders have accused NPA over the years, of foot dragging and paying lip service to sanitising the port environment and ridding it of unwanted elements. A visit to the Tin Can Island Port, especially at night would portray Nigerian port as a market place.
In 2018, the former Executive Director, Marine and Operations of NPA, Dr Sekonte Davies confirmed that the incessant attacks on vessels berthed at the various terminals is due to activities of hoodlums occupying these shanties and illegal buildings.
When DAILY TREND NEWS visited the popular Abuja Park opposite the Tin Can Island Port on Tuesday, the Lagos Task Force team were seen destroying container offices belonging to truck unions, food vendors among others.
The controvertial Abuja park has been notorious for various activities including prostitution, faking of clearance documents, a den of thieves and achohol merchants. The expanse land space is also used as a truck park by some truck drivers.
The Chairman of the Lagos State Taskforce, CSP Olayinka Egbeyemi had disclosed over the weekend that all illegal structures and shanties built on the Tin Can Port area were served a “Removal Order” which directs them to vacate the area within seven days.
Egbeyemi said the entire area is set to be redeveloped and given a new look to transform the State into a functional and efficient model Mega-City.
Speaking with our correspondent, one of the occupants of the Abuja park who is a stakeholder of one of the haulage unions, Pastor Sylvester Keshinro described the activity of the task force as an illegal job, arguing that the place belongs to the NPA.
According to him, the NPA gave permission to the occupants of the popular Abuja Park and it is aware of their various offices sited there.
Prior to the coming of the Lagos task force, he acknowledged that a seven days notice was issued to the occupants, but that it was yet to elapse before the task force stormed the area on Tuesday.
Keshinro who is former Chairman of Tin-Can Chapter of Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) stated that “These Lagos task forces that came to destroy the place came to carry out an illegal job, this is because it is the federal government that owns the land, and we are in court with the federal ministry of works who are also claiming ownership of the area, and we are in the Appeal Court for several years”
“The government of this country are law breakers, and yet they blame the citizens, even when you have a tenant and he is owing you for five years, you cannot just park his load out, it is against the law”
“This environment down to marine beach, Park Lane and Area B Police station, belongs to the NPA, but because of their greediness and because they dont plan for the future, they gave out the whole area”
“Last year, the NPA came here and told us that the place belongs to them, I dont know why the Lagoon area should not belong to NPA, by law the NIWA are the owners of the land, about 100 feet away from the seashore belongs to NIWA, while others belong to NPA”
“It is NPA that gave us paper here, we are not just here illegally, the letter is with us” he said
Keshinro said it is a shame, that Tin Can Island Port which is the busiest port in Nigeria has no truck park, the one that was in the master plan has been concessioned to terminal operators by NPA.
According to him, the stakeholders have also gotten whim that the NPA allegedly plans to concession the Abuja Park to one of the terminal operators to build a container holding bay.
“The NPA are saying that they just want to remove the miscreants and that in a short time, the trucks would be allowed to go back there, but its a lie, they want to lease the place to one of the terminal operators” he alleged
When he was contacted by our correspondent, the General Manager Corporate and Strategic Communications of NPA, Eng Adams Jatto confirmed that “The land belongs to NPA but the task force doing the clearing to tidy up the environment is from Lagos state”