The Presidential Task Force on Apapa roads’ clearance has busted a cartel that extorts money from truck drivers, its leader, Mr Kayode Opeifa, said on Thursday.
According to him, the cartel extorts between N65,000 and N120,000 daily from the drivers to use the road and access the port.
The Presidential deadline for the clearing of the roads elapses today.
Declaring the exercise a success in a statement yesterday, Opeifa said the cartel, comprising touts, transport unions and security operatives, usually sabotaged government’s efforts to sanitise Apapa. Opeifa added that efforts were on to flush out the cartel and restore order in the area.
He urged freight forwarders and truckers unions to direct their trucks and drivers to the approved private parks for a call up to the port via Lillypond Truck Terminal.
This, he said, would further reduce the presence of trucks on the roads and bridges. The parks would serve as holding bay for the trailers pending their call up to the port.
Opeifa said: “The task team has commenced the process of restoring law and order which had been greatly eroded beyond comprehension by various interests and enforcement agencies, transport unions, area boys and some military personnel, who have turned the 10 lane dual carriage road to a truck park, extortion field, Automated Teller Machine (ATM) with trucks moving in all directions against traffic despite the deplorable condition of the road and flooding. Hitherto truckers pay as much as N65,000 to N120,000 and spend weeks to have access to the roads on the Tin Can Port axis comprising Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, Mile 2, Kirikiri and Ajegunle area.”
Opeifa said the rehabilitation of the inbound lane from Berger Suya and the entire Apapa network would begin today to pave the way for complete palliative of major sections of the outbound lane.
He said though the palliative might cause some congestion, the team is on top of the situation to ensure it does not reverse the gains of decongestion.
He assured all manufacturing concerns in the area of unhindered access to their plants during the work.
Opeifa said the clearing and removal of trucks and articulated vehicles from many of the affected highways – Ikorodu Road, Funsho Williams Avenue, Eric Moore, Iganmu area, Eko Bridge, Apongbon, Ijora up to Sifax and Lagos Waterworks was successful.
“We are restoring orderliness from Marina Bridge to Port gate via Wharf road with manageable truck movement which we are working to remove in the next few days despite the non-availability of the Tin Can Port Gate Truck Park as directed in the Presidential directive,” he said.
The team, Opeifa said, was working to perfect the use of Lillypond terminal to serve as holding bay for empty container return trucks and the focal point of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Manual Call up system , despite its inadequacy to operate 24 hours due to non-availability of security and visibility lightings.
The team, he added, ensured that trucks and tankers vacated the port access roads including “the withdrawal of the Nigerian Navy and other military formations from traffic management duties in and around Apapa, the dismantling of military and paramilitary checkpoints in front of the port and environs, authorizing the officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) to move into Apapa as the lead traffic management agency.”
He said the trucks were still on the highway because of the capacity and efficiency of Apapa port to handle empty container return and other deliveries with right of way to the port.