The Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) has condemned the forced eviction of truckers from the Abuja Truck Park at the Tin Can Island Port Complex by a Lagos State environmental task force, calling for the provision of an alternative park to avoid more roads and bridges becoming parking lots thereby hindering free flow of traffic.
The task force had on Tuesday destroyed the park including container offices belonging to truck unions, food vendors and other shanties within the area, which was said to be notorious for various criminal activities.
Chairman of the task force, Olayinka Egbeyemi, a chief superintendent of police, had disclosed over the weekend that all illegal structures and shanties built in the area were served a removal order, which directs them to vacate the area within seven days.
He said the entire area is set to be redesigned and given a new look to transform the State into a functional and efficient model mega city.
Reacting to the development, Chairman of AMATO, Chief Remi Ogungbemi, described the action by the Lagos State government as ill-advise especially at a time when almost the roads and bridges are being turned to parking lots for trucks that are waiting to enter the port to either pick cargo or going into the port with export laden containers or returning empty containers into the ports.
“The dislodgement of truckers at this time is ill-advise. With this development, if an alternative is not provided, more roads and bridges will become parking lots as being experienced around Ijora, Orile, Amuwo, Amukoko, Badia, Coker, Oshodi Apapa express and Costain.
“I learnt that the reason for the dislodgment is because they found some criminal activities going on there. But I am appealing that it should not be a way of calling dog a bad name in order to hang it. If there are criminal activities going on there, the police can come in to restore sanity,” he said.
Ogungbemi advised that the park, when reconstructed should not be converted to another business venture but should serve as a transit park to complement the one at Tin can Island second gate.
“We don’t want a situation whereby the place will be converted for another business activities rather than accommodate trucks because it has happened like that in the past.
“This is the time we should be talking and working on how to build a modern befitting truck terminals to serve the ports so as to remove all the trucks that are littering all over the highways, bridges, many streets and crannies within the Lagos metropolis.
“I think it would have sounded better if the plan is to restructure the place to accommodate more trucks for the sake of the economy because trucks are the movers of the economy of any nation. Imagine, trucks moves all food items, building materials, raw material for factories, while petroleum tankers lift petroleum used to power almost 90 percent of all engines.
“We are not asking to park free of charge. If they rebuild the place and ask us to pay back the money for the park, we will be ready to pay. We will work out a modality on how we will be paying in order to protect our investment and bring relief to all frustrations our members are going through,” he said.