The ongoing construction of the Tin Can Island axis of the port access road has turned into a meal ticket for military officials stationed strategically along the road, as young officers are seen collecting N1,000 from Okada riders and port users trying to access their offices with bikes.
Investigations carried out by DAILY TREND NEWS yesterday revealed that each okada rider pays a total of N5,000 per day to the officers, failure to do this, they are turned back from accessing certain spot on the expressway, most times they are manhandled and their bikes are seized.
Some of the riders who spoke with our correspondent confirmed that to pick passengers from Mile 2 to Liverpool, they cumulatively pay up to N5,000 at different checkpoints.
“This is how we have been paying this money for some time now, the army officers around Abuja Park, Tin Can Island Port are the worst, you cannot pass this place, so this is where I am stopping you, this is where my money ends, I have not paid to get to Tin Can second gate”
“Sometimes, there oga (boss) would come and they would collect your bike until evening, and you even pay a fine of N5,000” a rider said
Confirming this ugly trend in a chat with our correspondent, a frontline freight forwarder, Chief Shedrack Chukwuemeka said the military were only sent to ensure that uncompleted portion of the road are not abused before completion, and to keep law and order, but that the officers are not extorting.
He said sometimes, the officers now work in collaboration with terminal operators to delay trucks from getting into the port, so as to ensure that demurages pile up.
“The Federal Government had brought in the military to ensure that the construction company carry out completion of the road without disturbance”
“The military are not helping issues at all, the particular portion of roads that has already been finished and people supposed to use, they have stopped them from accessing it.
The military would block the road and start collecting money from people”
“Some port users who are clearing agents, use bikes as their own means of accessing their office since there is no access for vehicles, yet the military would stop them and compel them to pay N1,000 from one checkpoint to another”
“They should allow the clearing agents use their bikes since the road is not motorable for now, even customs also use bikes to access their office”
“The military would block the road for two hours and we have to trek a long distance under rain and sun to access the port” he said.
Chukwuemeka also said that the military equally collect money from container laden truck drivers, even as he added that:
“If the officers want to close for the day, they use a trailer to block the entire road so that ordinary vehicles cannot even access the road until they resume work in the morning, they dont want the containers to pass without paying them”
He commended the contractor for constructing a standard road, but urged them to hasten up as the project was too slow.
“When this road is completed, inside the port, the issue of terminal operators and shipping companies must be addressed, if the shipping companies leave with the equivalent number of laden containers they brought into the country, we would not be having port congestion ” he said.