Members of the House of Representatives on Wednesday asked the Federal Government to disband the Presidential Task Team on port access roads, saying it has outlived its usefulness, participating in extortion and contributing to the congestion of the ports.
The lawmakers also urged government and other relevant security agencies to immediately put an end to extortion of truck drivers by their operatives on the port access roads.
“Concerned that in addition to the poor condition of the port access roads, extortion by officials of the Nigerian Ports Authority Security Department, Police, and the Presidential Task Force remain the major cause of unending gridlock along the port access roads, with stakeholders such as importers, clearing agents and truck owners alleging that they are forced to pay as much as N250,000 to N280,000 per truck for entries and exits to the ports.
“These apparatus milking the stakeholders at the expense of the nation should be held accountable, while the task force, which has demonstrated that it has outlived its usefulness, should be disbanded forthwith,” one of the lawmakers, Leke Abejide, who sponsored a motion of “urgent national importance” on the issue, said.
Abejide said that businesses, commuters, and residents along the access roads “see hell on a daily basis as they are subjected to nuisance, pollution, and emissions to the environment”.
According to him, due to the challenges of inaccessibility to the ports in Lagos, it now takes an average of 60 days to turnaround a vessel as against the five days it used to be.
He said, “Despite the stated challenges, the Nigeria Customs Service in four commands within the port viz the Apapa, Tin Can lsIand, PTML, and Kirikiri Lighter Terminal, make an average of N100 billion in one month. This would have translated to N500 billion monthly if access roads leading to the ports were to be in order.
“The House inferred that were two months of Nigeria Customs revenue from these commands be dedicated to facilitating its access roads and needed infrastructure. The revenue dedicated would be recovered in full in less than a month. Sharply increasing our revenue in this manner would stem the frequency of loans from China and other sources, of which we cannot predict the future ramification of the debts for the country.
“The House is worried that further aggravating traffic chaos is most of the shipping companies which continue to operate their empty containers receiving bay within the perimeter of the ports rather than relocating the bays and logistic parks outside of the ports, and employing the use of barges as transport alternatives for both importers and exporters towards reducing traffic on the port roads.”
Adopting the motion, the House mandated the House Committee on Customs and Excise to, within six weeks, ensure compliance and report back for further legislative action.
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