Truck drivers, decry extortion by security operatives at port gates

Some truck drivers operating at the ports in Lagos on Friday expressed concerns over extortion by the government security agencies at the ports.

The drivers, in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said the extortion was responsible for the unending vehicular traffic in the port vicinity.

A driver, Sadiq Alade said the situation had made loading of cargoes at the Tin Can Island Port first and second gates a nightmare for both drivers and transport agents.

“The mere mentioning of loading of cargoes in any of these points sends fear into the drivers. There are various (security) operatives collecting illegal levies at the gates,” Alade said.

Another truck driver, Emeka Okoroafor said the extortion usually generates argument between drivers and collectors of the illegal levies.

“The amount collected ranged from N200 to N500 and in some cases, the amount goes to N5, 000; depending on the time and the size of the cargo,” he said.

According to him, such levies are making transactions at the ports very difficult and expensive.

The drivers appealed to the ports authority to harmonise the levies to facilitate loading of cargoes at the ports without stress. A transport contractor at Sapid Bonded Terminal, Jacob Itado lamented the high level of extortion at port entrance.

Itado expressed regret that in spite of constant disagreement between the parties, the menace (extortion) had become a tradition, which drivers had to contend with at the ports.

“It is only when such illegal levy collectors are out of the scene that free flow of vehicular traffic will be enjoyed,” he said.

The Chairman, Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) Chief Remi Ogungbemi, said that extortion had become a norm by government security officials at the ports. He said the rates collected in the night tagged “peak period”, were usually higher than in day time.

He said the association was helpless in this situation.

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