Apapa gridlock: Truckers seek FG intervention over harassment, extortion

We defecate in nylon bags and throw it across the bridge, say truck drivers stuck in Apapa gridlock

Truckers under the aegis of the Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) and the Container Truck Owners Association of Nigeria (COTOAN) have cried out to the Federal and Lagos State Government for urgent help over what they described as traumatic experiences from the lingering Lagos Port access roads gridlock.

In a Save-our-Soul (SOS) message to both tiers of government, the road haulage operators lamented that the persisting trauma they are subjected to in trucks queues parked on roads and bridges is seriously affecting their health and condition of vehicles.

In a communique dated December 14, 2018, and signed by the duo of Chief Remi Ogungbemi, and Alhaji Wasiu Oloruntoyin, for AMATO and COTOAN respectively, the truckers said, “We are hereby using this platform to beg the Federal and Lagos State governments to urgently look into our plight, which has resulted in the untimely deaths of truck drivers while on the queues of parked haulage vehicles. 

“The situation has resulted to the inability of drivers on those parked truck queues to bathe, eat, sleep and rest adequately. Exposure of the truck drivers on the queues results to regular harassment by street urchins, commonly known as area boys. 

“Truckers on the queues are being subjected to wanton extortion by countless security agencies at alarming rates ranging between N80,000 to N120,000 on each truck, depending on the particular operator’s power of negotiation.

“The trucks on the queues are also routinely exposed to vandals who constantly damage the vehicles and steal various critical parts, which replacements further drain the lean purses of the operators. The drivers on the queues are also subjected to serial brutalisation and dehumanisation by sadistic security operatives.

“In the season of Christmas, the containerised truck owners are filled with angst of further distress in their lots, going by past records of increased delivery of imports and congestion at Nigerian ports in anticipation of huge sales at yuletide.”

The truckers noted that apart from the seasonal spike in imports, Nigeria also contends with increased security challenges caused by marauding criminal elements as well as high incidents of extortion “by rampaging unscrupulous security operatives along the ports access roads”.

“Ideally, the Christmas season spells good tidings and joy but in the current poor conditions our members are contending with on Lagos ports access roads, the yuletide can only spell sorrow, tears and blood for us, except the Federal and Lagos State governments hearken to our cries and save our lives and means of livelihoods.”

“The containerised truck owners made a passionate appeal to members of the general public, especially those that reside around the corridors where trucks are either queued or parked, to kindly lend their voices to help the truckers in prevailing on the concerned authorities to do the needful by introducing an automated system to regulate movement of trucks in and out of the ports,” the groups said. 

The truckers also appealed to the government to “provide a place to serve as truck terminal for trucks that are already booked to load in the ports”.