EACH extortion point at Apapa and Tin Can ports corridor in Lagos State generates about N2.16bn annually, a recent investigation by The International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) has shown.
The investigation, published in two parts on March 15 and March 16, respectively, reveals the public operation of multiple extortionist stations along the Apapa and Tin Can ports corridor, as well as the involvement of security operatives, notably the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), a transportation agency owned by the Lagos State government.
It shows how the uncontrolled criminal activities have claimed the lives of innocent citizens and impedes the efficiency of the Electronic Call-Up system meant to solve the problem of port congestion.
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According to the report, there are about 15 channels of extortion along the Tin Can terminal axis and about 21 along the Apapa Port axis in Lagos. Touts and arm-bearing agents enforce the collection of illegal tolls and taxes from truck drivers doing their legitimate business.
The report stated that each truck driver said he pays at least N30,000 daily in settling thugs, popularly called Area Boys, before reaching their destinations.
The investigation reveals that the hoodlums rake in an estimated N6 million daily, N180 million monthly and about N2.16 billion annually from the illegal business per extortion toll point.
Similarly, it costs an average of N21,500 to access the port using Eto Application, but with multiple illegal checkpoints, truckers now spend between N50,000-N60,000.
Several truck drivers who spoke with The ICIR narrated how the failure of the government to find a lasting solution to multiple extortion points on the Apapa port access roads threatens their lives and import and export business operations.
The Ports Standing Task Team (PSTT), a body responsible for enforcement activities in the port blamed the state government for the illegal activities of the hoodlums and appealed to the state government to support their mission.
In an interview with The ICIR, Sola Giwa, the Special Assistant to Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, stated that the joint efforts of state governments and the Nigerian Port Authority have resulted in a decrease in traffic congestion and unlawful fees along port routes.
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However, he acknowledged that there are still some issues that the government is striving to improve.
Nurudeen Akewushola is an investigative reporter and fact-checker with The ICIR. He believes courageous in-depth investigative reporting is the key to social justice, accountability and good governance in the society. You can shoot him a scoop via [email protected] and @NurudeenAkewus1 on Twitter.