Truck drivers yesterday paralysed economic activities at Apapa, Lagos as they protested alleged extortion by security officers stationed at the port gate.
Troubled started in the early hours when security operatives at the port gate allegedly demanded the payment of N500 per truck being allowed into the port.
The protest that took place at the Wharf gate showed angry truck drivers singing solidarity songs at the port gate.
A truck driver who did not want his name mentioned said the truckers were infuriated because seeking bribe from them had become a daily routine hence the protest.
But, the leaders of the two truck drivers associations operating at the Lagos Port Complex, Apapa could not confirm reasons why the truckers were protesting as they claimed to not “being on ground” during the protest.
Chairman, Apapa chapter of the Association of Maritime Truck Owners, (AMATO), Onyeka Emechebe, said he was not aware of the protest.
He said, “I don’t know what is happening and I don’t think the national president, Chief Remi Ogungbemi is aware because we are all ouside the state.”
When asked if any protest was planned protest before the AMATO leaders travelled out of Lagos, he replied in the negative.
Also, a high ranking member of the National Association Of road Transport Owners (NARTO) told our correspondent that his association was not aware of the protest.
“I am in the office now and I don’t have any report of our members going on protest, nothing like that for now,” he said.
The Executive Secretary of NARTO, Barr. Emmanuel Gowon also said he was not aware of the protest because he was not in Lagos.
However, the Port Manager of LPC, Mallam Nasir Mohammed denied the allegation of extortion by port security operatives stationed at the gate of the port.
He said, “I am not aware of any illegal fee collected by officers. You should also know that many of these people are touts and motor boys who capitalize on any little thing to cause chaos but we have been able to put the situation under control.”
Also, the Divisional Police Officer of the Apapa port police command, Adeleke Smith confirmed the protest but debunked the allegation that the protest was against security officers.
He the situation was had been brought under control by the police.
He said, “There was protest by the truckers at the Apapa gate and they were going about it peacefully with no cause for alarm, it is under our control and the truckers are also cooperating with the police.”
At about 12:30pm, a worker at the port confirmed to SHIPS & PORTS DAILY that the strike had been called off and the gate of the port had been opened.
The protest, which lasted for about four hours, worsened the perennial traffic gridlock characterised the port city as many people were seen trekking long distance due to the heavy traffic.
The Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Mallam Habib Abdulahi had on Wednesday in Lagos charged anyone with complaint of corrupt practices against security officers to report same to the anti- corruption desk of the agency.
“We have the anti-corruption desk and anyone who has a concrete evidence against the security agencies should report to them and investigation will be carried out,” he stated.
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