Nigerian Truckers vow to strike if ETO handlers fail to stop extortion

Chief Remi Ogungbemi, AMATO Chairman

Nigerian truckers under the aegis of the Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) in the week alleged widespread extortion of its members by the handlers of the Electronic Call-up System (Eto) and said they may be forced to withdraw their services if the extortion does not end.

AMATO noted that the handlers of ETO improperly coordinate and indiscriminately release trucks from pre-gates to either transit park or direct into the ports and other loading points.

AMATO alleged that trucks without ETO call up tickets are gaining entrance into the ports easier and faster than those with genuine ETO tickets, especially at night while Police/LASTMA/NPA operatives ask truckers to give them money at various checkpoints and refusal of which always results to claim that tickets have expired, maltreatment of drivers, smashing truck mirrors and forceful turning back of trucks with valid ETO tickets, calling LASMA to come and tow the truck and indiscriminate arrest, towing, and slamming of un-receipted bills between N150,000 and N250,000 as ‘ransom.’

The AMATO Chairman, Chief Remi Ogungbemi, said what the truck owners face now was no longer mere pains, but extortions anchored to impunity.

“On many occasions, the Committee for the Removal of Abandoned Vehicle and LASTMA, in conjunction with armed soldiers and area thugs wielding bottles, cut-lasses, and iron rods, do forcefully attack and collect trucks from drivers with Eto tickets and drive (them) off to their yard; and booked the trucks as being towed, in order to slam un-receipted, outrageous bills”, Ogungbemi declared.

He lamented the indiscriminate clamping of trucks and slamming of bills by NPA for some offences that are not absolutely coming from truckers’ fault.

The truckers however called on the Lagos State Government to stop impounding and towing their trucks with valid ETO tickets moving to transit parks, pre-gates and ports, release their seized trucks unconditionally by the  Lagos State Government traffic agents.

They called for an establishment of a committee that would include truckers should for downward review of towing charges by the Nigerian Ports Authority NPA and Lagos State Government and maintained that if there is any violation or wrong parking, the body of trucking associations should be contacted for immediate repositioning, to achieve the expected traffic sanity and orderliness.

The truckers demanded the abolition of 30,000 TTP annual registration charges on the ETO account and  Truck and Transit Park Limited TTP should with immediate effect start programing the movement of all trucks in a way that every truck drivers would electronically know when it is his turn to move to Transit Park, Pre-gate or any of the loading points in the port as a measure to control indiscriminate releasing of trucks from parks, choking bridges and roads in the port corridors which is undermining the much-expected traffic sanity in the Eto automation system.

Other demands of the truck drivers were: timely uploading of import and export containers by APMT in collaboration with TTP to enable timely matching of trucks, containers, TDOs, etc in order to decongest parks and create space for trucks coming in, suspension of 72 hours validity period for booking tickets and PMT should accelerate its operational circle to reduce truck congestion along the port access roads.

Others were NPA/Police operative at port gates must stop the habit of delaying the passing of trucks into the ports even when spaces are available inside the port, NPA should remodify and give the Minimum Safety Standard (MSS) arrangement a human face, in a way it would conform with the nature and dynamics of Nigeria, as developing country because we don‘t manufacture truck in Nigeria and NPA should remove the monetary charges attached to MSS. because ETO charges should be enough to take care of such”, the AMATO paper posited, stressing that truckers actually look forward to “jaw-jawing” rather than “war warring” with the Authorities, towards more productive traffic management.

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