Business

Truckers give NPA, TTP seven-day ultimatum to refund N40b illegal collection

  • COMTUA vows to deploy legal means to stop irregularities
  • Blame concessionaires for congestion at Lagos ports
Council of Maritime Transport Unions and Associations (COMTUA) has vowed to recover the over N40 billion illegally collected by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) through the Truck Transit Park Limited (TPP) from truck owners operating at the Lagos ports.

COMUTA alleged that the money, which was collected from the truckers between February 2021 and July 2022, was due to NPA and TTP’s failure and mismanagement of the electronic call-up system.

In a statement issued in Lagos by National President of COMTUA, Adeyinka Aroyewun and made available to The Trumpet, he described the collection as a ‘fraud,’ insisting that that it must stop, while refund of proceeds of the illegal collections and payments to ETO on call-ups should be effected immediately.

He added that all legal and legitimate means shall commence against all of the irregularities in the next seven working days.

He lamented that NPA and TTP have turned truckers to cash cows who now pay for the problems and charges accrued by the concessionaires (terminal operators and shipping companies) at the ports and all corridors.

Aroyewun explained that the extortion through ETO/TTP began after NPA’s concession agreement with private companies such as APM Terminal, Port & Cargo, Tin Can Island Container Terminal (TICT), PTML Terminal, Five Star Logistics, among others between 2005 and 2006.

He said, while these terminals keep cargoes and empty containers for shipping companies, with importers paying for container rentage and services, as well as terminal handling charges on their cargoes as listed by NPA as the regulator, congestion became a problem due to the poor administration of containers by terminals operators, with the resulting effects extended to the roads.

Aroyewun said the problem became compounded by the dilapidated state of the roads that led to congestion, which was not peculiar to container trucks and tankers alone, but to other road users who suffered the same fate.

He stated that the situation became worse due to road construction between 2016 and 2020, which aggravated traffic congestion that led to the creation of the Presidential Task Team (PTT) that was later dissolved, as the state government took over.

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The COMTUA boss queried how NPA, TTP and Lagos State government team were claiming that ETO was working when the truck owner using it were complaining, adding

that the current regime that has the NPA, TTP, Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and Lagos Task team were not different from the era of the Presidential Team, as extortion had continued at the highest level.

“The extortionists of the PTT were basically doing so secretly and the complaints of truckers were not as bad. We were working and making million on each loading. There was no case of ‘official payment’ as it is now with the ETO/TTP,” he stated.

He highlighted the irregularities in the ETO/ TTP project to include illegal collection of over N2 billion through POS in Kiri-Kiri, imposition of garage without facilities and collection of money for unused garages, policy somersault on traffic and road issues, criminal conspiracy with some state and non state actors to impound trucks and levy exorbitant fines, constant hike in cost of call up and priority for some trucks on passage.

Aroyewun also lamented that NPA had wanted to generate revenue from truckers when it introduced the minimum safety standard sticker, recalling that the matter was challenged in court and its enforcement was put on hold.

“We pay for road worthiness, Hackney permit, heavy-duty permit and so on, yet you are charging N10,000 for the same service, which amounts to double taxation,” he said, maintaining that NPA’s insistence on minimum safety standard for trucks coming into its premises was a contradiction since the facility had been concessioned.

He further argued that by implication NPA can only levy charges on the concessionaires who are its tenants as truckers are not NPA’s subjects, adding that imposition of a levy on them is illegal.

Noting that NPA and TTP had failed in its promises, which include trucks coming into the port within hours, no stationed truck or extortion on the roads, he said there was no human interference in the process, standardised garages and CCTV cameras to monitor all the roads with no preferences.

He alleged that the CCTV cameras meant for the road are nowhere to be found, noting that assessing TTP based on these to verify the effectiveness of ETO as claimed shows failure.

He decried a reduction in importation by more than 40 per as well as the increase in price of diesel, while the cost of loading is at the least.

Aroyewun, who lamented that the ETO/TTP project was fraudulent, questioned the essence of the container matching charges, insisting that the fraud must not continue.

“No regulation from the economic regulator. It is obvious that everyone is against truckers and this is a recipe for anarchy. I advise government to ensure that the illegality should stop, a forensic audit conducted and refund made to the truckers. All legal and legitimate means shall commence against all of these irregularities in the next seven working days. Accept this as the final ultimatum,” he said.

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