The Council of Maritime Transport Unions and Associations (COMTUA) has accused the Nigerian Navy led Task Force on Apapa Traffic of scuttling its plan to remove trucks on the port access roads and take them to designated garages from where they will access the ports through a call up system.
It will be recalled that COMTUA recently carried out a roadshow in Apapa and its environs where they gave the truck drivers one week ultimatum to remove their trucks from the road move them to the designated truck parks so as to decongest the road or risk having their trucks impounded.
However, three weeks after the exercise, the ultimatum was yet to be obeyed by truck drivers as investigations by Primetime Reporters indicated trucks still littered the access roads as officials of COMTUA were not enforcing the directive.
Speaking to our correspondent on the issue, the Head of Operations, COMTUA, Alhaji Abdullahi Inuwa Mohammed said that after the sensitization exercise, the group through its task force members test run the enforcement exercise for three days revealing that it was on the third day that the team was attacked by hoodlums hired by the Task Force led by the Nigerian Navy, wounding several of their members.
Mohammed stated that within the three days test run, they were able to deploy some of their own task force members in some of the points where the joint task forces led by the Navy were working along the Tincan/Mile 2 axis.
According to him,” We got attacked in one of the points; it is like the people are not happy with the development. It was incited by the admin of the task force on that very spot who invited some hoodlums who claimed to be members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers. After deployment of our men, we dropped the task force and after we left, the man called and said that his boss called and told him all the decision taken between our leaders and the Chairman of the Joint Task Force, after we left, he now called us to come back for clarifications not knowing that they have planted this National Union and we were rounded up. It is by the grace of God that I am still speaking because a lot of them were stabbing us but with God help, it did not penetrate.
“Some of our task force men were rough handled so we had to run first for safety and definitely, we have to run to the hospital for treatment but with the quick intervention of one of our COMTUA member, who happened to be coordinator from the National Union who quickly went to meet those people and let them know before they started apologizing that they (Navy) succeeded in dragging them into the matter which they didn’t know anything about”.
He pointed out that despite the harassment and intimidation to the, they (COMTUA) did not shift ground as they still went ahead to deploy their men on the spot.
He however said that having test run the exercise, they had seen some of the loopholes and challenges and so, had withdrawn their own task force from the field so as to report back to the Management team and the BOT of COMTUA for further directives hence enforcement had temporarily stopped.
“I pity for the people of this country if we continue this way, that is why we have been having so many issues around the country. Once money is involved, you cannot see what you are expecting to see during that period because money has entered into people’s mind illegally but having test run and saw the loopholes, I know we will be up to it. We have discussed, they have given us their word but I have seen physically what it is on the ground. So, it is now left for us to meet our leadership and take decision”, he said.
Asked if they brought the attack to the knowledge of the Navy authorities and that of the Nigerian Ports Authority management, he said,” The commanding officer was fully aware. Immediately the attack took place, he rushed to visit me at the hospital where I was receiving treatment and even took me to one of our members’ office where all our members were gathered, waiting for me, he apologized to us and promised to take action against the admin on that spot to which I believe something has been done. I am aware that same day that they have withdrawn the man from that spot.
“As a matter of fact, we did not bring the development to the notice of the NPA management. There are lots of loopholes on both side but I believe that even if there should be any form of report, it should come from our superior to the NPA management”.
He continued,” The first day we went out, we have two of our association’s buses with public address system mounted on them, going round, giving announcement to drivers that parked from Mile 2 to Ijesha, calling on them to leave the road and go to the designated garages and park but I was surprised to hear from some of those drivers that the task force men asked them to leave their trucks on the road that there is no problem. So, you can see the level of sabotage on the part of the so-called task force. That was why I told you that we are giving back repot to the house”.
However, a visit by this medium to the Western Naval Command Headquarters in Lagos to get the official reaction of the Navy did not yield result as the Information Officer was said to be away on official assignment to Abuja and would not be back until next week. All effort to get him to react through the phone proved abortive as his phone was not going through as at the time of filing this report.
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