Truck drivers and owners plying the ports in Lagos have accused the Nigerian Navy of scuttling the call-up system and use of Lilypond terminal, Ijora, Lagos as a transit truck park by the Nigerian Ports Authority to ease the Apapa traffic gridlock.
Some of the truck drivers who spoke in separate interviews with SHIPS & PORTS, also accused the Nigerian Navy of extortion.
The truckers said most of them have spent several days at the truck park without gaining access to the port due to demand for bribes by Naval officials.
The Chairman, Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO), Chief Remi Ogungbemi, who narrated the plight of his members, accused officials of the Nigerian Navy of working against the regulation of the truck park as some trucks that are not in the park get favoured ahead of those at the facility.
According to him, “As it is now, the trucks that are parked at Lilypond at times are abandoned while the Navy will be passing others that are not in the park, which is against the regulation.
“The regulation says the place should serve as a transit park, which means trucks can only be distributed to any loading point from Lilypond, but as it is now, there are still lots of favouritism, perhaps this is an effort to sabotage the new arrangement because Navy at times still want to show supremacy that they are in charge which shouldn’t be.”
He said the NPA should mandate the Navy to hands off traffic management at Apapa for officials of the Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC) and the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA).
“Navy should be told to go back to their barracks and leave the whole traffic management to LASTMA, FRSC and police to manage,” he said.
A truck driver, Olayiwola Mutiu, who also expressed his frustration over the delay at the park, suggested that trucks en route to Tin Can Island Port should not be mandated to use the Lilypond.
He said, “I have been here for several waiting to enter Lilypond but I don’t think it is right because I am not going to Apapa. Trucks going to Tin Can Port should be allowed to go.
“Even when we get to Barracks (Area B), whether you have call-up card or not, if you don’t give bribe, you will be asked to turn back and go back to the queue again. I have paid N70,000 (in bribe), yet we have not gotten to where we are going. We are going to Second Gate Tin Can but they are suppose to pass us since we are not going to (Apapa) wharf.”