NPA Inaugurates First Export Terminal In Lagos
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) recently raised the alarm about increasing extortion along the access roads of the Lagos and Tin Can Island Port Complexes.

This was coming on the heels of the clearance operations the Authority undertook to rid the Port corridor of shanties and illegal structures harboring criminal elements who perpetrate acts of extortion.

On the eve of the port corridor clearance operations carried out in collaboration with Lagos State Government, the Managing Director /CEO NPA Mohammed Bello Koko, lamented that “these acts of extortion and allied illegalities are injurious to trade facilitation, the core function of the Authority, stressing it cannot allow nefarious characters make nonsense of the gateways to the national economy which the ports constitute.

Before now, all efforts put in place, including Special Taskforce, the introduction of Eto app, PSST, and others by the past and present governments to get rid of the extortion menace along the Port access roads were thwarted by the maritime bandits.

The harder the government tried to rid the corridor of extortionists and maritime bandits out of port corridors, the more they fight back and gain more ground.

However, extortion, which largely caused traffic logjam along the Port access roads are usually responsible for Nigerian export integrity failure abroad due to long delay and overstaying on the port access roads. The clogging along the port access road also is adding a huge cost to doing business at the two Lagos Ports.

The corrupt practices are allegedly and largely carried out by security personnel such as Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA), Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), officers of the Nigerian Police Force, and other maritime bandits around the port corridors.

An investigation by Daily Sun revealed that most of the men in uniform especially the Police lobby to be posted to the nation’s Ports. The reason is that they see the port access roads as a cash cow. This lobby aspect of the extortion started back as far as 2015 when the Apapa gridlock was terrible.

For instance,  between 2016 to 2017, a Police officer worked his transfer from Delta State to Lagos State. Even before his deployment, he had started lobbying to be posted to Apapa Port.

The investigation also revealed that most of these men uniform along Port access roads own different properties both within and outside Lagos State.

Stakeholders who spoke with Daily Sun described the extortion along the Port access roads as a national embarrassment, even as they suggested that Federal Government should give enough backing to NPA to curb the activities of extortionists and other forms of illegalities along the roads leading to Apapa and TinCan Island Port Complex.

However, Daily Sun learned that the extortion industry in Apapa is about N100 million a day with over existing 30 extortion “toll points” set up around Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports by security agents where bribes are being collected before trucks are allowed into the Port. Clearing agents lamented that people pay nothing less than N100,000 before they can move a container into the Ports for exports.

While raising the alarm on increasing extortion along the Port access roads, Bello-Koko said, “We had in the past visited punitive measures on of our staff who were complicit in such unethical practices, and I want to reiterate that once we are confronted with evidence of any our staff involved in these acts of sabotage, we would sanction them in line with the public service rules and our conditions of service which has zero tolerance for such malfeasance.”

Koko had whilst receiving the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Idowu Owohunwa earlier this month at the NPA Headquarters enlisted the support of the police in tackling the extortion menace.

Bello Koko had specifically cited that the jurisdictional rule that restricts the powers of the Port Authority Police Command (PAPC) to the Port premises, is the more reason why calling for increased synergy between PAPC and officers of the Lagos State Police Command.

The NPA MD had earlier met with the leadership at various levels of the Nigerian Army, the Navy, the Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC), and the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) stressing the pressing need to collectively nip the menace of extortion in the bud.

The Authority solicits the collaboration of sister government agencies operating along the port corridor to sustainably tackle this menace that is impeding the ease of doing business around our ports.

Speaking with Daily Sun, the Managing Director of Sula Marine Global Limited/Sulaiman Ayokunle,  said the extortion on the port access road is an international embarrassment.

“And remember this slogan that once you fight corruption; corruption fights back is not different from what is happening in the port corridor. Get me right, we call this road corridor because it leads to the Port. This is a major road, usually from Ijesha that is coming from Oshodi. By the time you get to Ijesha from Tin Can Port to Apapa Port or you are coming from Western Avenue; Alaka bridge down to Apapa Port, the extortion is unimaginable,” he said.

However, he hinted that some of the security agencies are the ones behind the extortion along the Port corridor, saying some of them are put on the roads to monitor the traffic but decided to do otherwise.

“Remember there was a time we had Special Taskforce on the Port access roads and that committee was headed by Opeifa, the former Commissioner of Transport in Lagos State.  Even within themselves, there are some bad eggs. They did all that they could but the bad egg made sure that the committee are being frustrated. Opeifa left the job in anger.

I think he was called back to Abuja during President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime.

“Now, If you want to come to Tin Can Port, you will spend nothing less than N70,000 to N80,000 before you can in your truck. And if you want to bring in your truck to Apapa, you will not spend less than N100,000. A fight broke out last week when some hoodlums attacked the campaign rally of the ANLCA presidential candidate. Even before that attack, there was a fight between NARTO and MWUN against NPA.

“The NARTO wanted to impose additional charges on each truck without carrying other associations along, it became a fracas. That was a day before. When we were having our one rally we had a lot of fracas again. Some people are telling us it has nothing to do with that transporter’s struggles. I’m telling you this because transporter associations are involved, NPA is involved, and some other security agencies in the extortion.

“NPA cannot tell us that they don’t know what is happening along that corridor. They cannot tell us that they are not involved. If they want to tell us they are not involved, they should work against it and the extortion will die a natural debt,” he added.

According to him, the extortion along the Port corridor is magnanimous and unimaginable, the extortion is adding to the cost of doing business around the nation’s Port.  He explained that the transporters will factor in the money and transfer it to the clearing agents while clearing agents will now transfer the cost to the importers.

“You don’t spend less than N100,000 to bring your container into the Port because of extortion. This money is unreciepted. You see different checkpoints at Mile 2, Sunrise, and  Coconut.  You will see another checkpoint at Abuja, which we called a place Abuja around Tin Can Island Port, which is a park. What are they controlling?

“Now, when you are coming from Western Avenue, you see another set of extortion points as you are descending that Alaka Bridge at Ijora. You see another one on Marine Bridge, another one at Area B, and another one at Eleganza before you go into the Port. No nation can continue like this!

“Imagine when you are bringing in your export, that is when you see containers staying the number of days on the road. And before the thing gets to the Port; loaded into the vessel, getting to the port of destination, you found out that the exports must have lost most of their integrity. That is why some of them failed integrity tests when they get to their point of destination. Everybody is aware but nobody wants to talk about it,” he added.

Meanwhile, Prince Ejiofor lamented that exporters are suffering and running at a loss due to multiple extortion points along the Port corridors.

“We can’t continue like this. It is high time the government does something about this situation. When we can’t export our produce, how will government generate foreign exchange? Export is a dollar business because it generates forex and is repatriated back into the country.

“Extortion along the port corridors is still on the high side. Extortion is frustrating E-call system. The bad eggs don’t want it to work. As we speak now, from First Gate to Second Gate, we have about four roadblocks mounted by these intentionally organise looters called security agents and the trucks must part with money before they can move else they won’t allow the truck to go in.

“Do you know that from Mile 2 Axis through Fatgbem Petrol Station, to Coconut exporters are meant to pay over N170,000 per truck, which from Coconut to TinCan and Gate at the cost of N70,000, which amounts to N240,000 minimum excluding other incidences of graft.

“My sesame seeds truck stayed for almost two weeks on the road because the driver refused to bribe his way through and in that way, most exporters have lost their potential customers due to these satanic elements,” he lamented.

He said the challenges are also hindering exporters’ ability to fulfill commitments on time and making forwarding and shipment very expensive.


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