Truck driver stopped to pay money as men in security uniform look on at Tin Can port road PHOTO: Adaku Onyenucheya
Truck and tanker drivers operating around dockyard, Apapa axis, have accused officials of Nigerian Navy of creating illegal truck parks through which they extort drivers coming into the dockyard road to load products.
The Guardian learnt that the drivers pay between N20,000 and N50,000, and are also beaten up, sometimes their trucks damaged if they refuse to pay the money.
Speaking to newsmen on the development, a truck driver, Bashiru Olarenwaju, alleged that some transport unions in connivance with the Nigerian Navy officials have perfected ways of extorting truck and tanker drivers that come to load products.
He alleged that drivers, who are duly called into truck parks for onward movement to loading bays, are not allowed to load, while those that hang around on the road are called in to load after monies have exchanged hands.
“The situation has become very frustrating as authorised drivers end up spending more than one day in some of these parks before they are called into the loading bays, while these illegal drivers get quick and easy access into the bays.
“We end up spending more money paying demurrage, and most times, this affects our profit margin,” he decried.
Similarly, another driver, Mr. Anthony Inno, said he has been inside the park in the last five days and that his truck has not moved an inch due to the long queue of trucks scheduled to go into the loading bays.
He alleged that the cause of the delay is the arrangement between the officers of the Nigerian Navy and the transport union.
“I have not had proper sleep in the last five days, because I have to be on the queue. The cause of this whole thing is the wrong arrangement between the Navy and the union. We are charged before we enter the truck park and we also pay the Navy before we are allowed to go into the loading bays to load,” Inno stated.
An official of one of the Truck Parks, who did not want his name or that of his company mentioned, had said earlier in the month, one of their senior management staff was injured by an official of the Nigerian Navy for daring to point out their wrong.
The truck park official also said all the Navy officials care about is the money they get from the drivers, adding that sometimes the drivers pay as much as N20,000, N25,000 and N50,000.
The drivers accused a particular female Naval Officer at the ‘Open OPMESA Camp’ of breaking the windscreen and side mirrors of their trucks.
They explained that most times, the Navy officials know that they get nothing from trucks that go through a proper call up process and as such they (Navy) only deal with trucks that are processed to go to the loading bays because they stand to gain from this category of drivers.
An official of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) who refused to give his name, also said the damage done to trucks belonging to members of PTD cannot be quantified, adding that sometimes, these drivers are also beaten up by these Naval officials.
Speaking in defence of the Navy, the Information Officer of the Western Naval Command of the Nigerian Navy, Commander Edward Yeibo, said truck drivers have become uncontrollable, adding that they are happy with the fact that sanity is returning to that part of the port access road.
Yeibo, however, denied the allegation that officials of the Nigerian Navy were involved in any form of extortion of drivers, saying they cannot extort anybody nor attempt to do that.
“There are other security agencies involved in the management of traffic in and around Apapa, the Nigerian Navy is not the only arm of government involved in traffic management at this part of the road,” he said.