…Laments activities of security agents on Lillypond Bridge, other locations
Even as the federal government is putting measures in place to encourage export of goods and services out of the country, the Chairman, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Tincan II, Lillypond, Mr. Olufemi Abiodun Olabanji has accused the security agents deployed to control traffic in Apapa of killing export business in the axis.
Olabanji who stated this in an interview with newsmen in Lagos last week observed that the security agents were killing government efforts by not allowing the northerners to bring their export to Lagos as most of their exports were damaging because they don’t take them to the port as and when due as a result of the activities of the security agents on the road.
He recalled that one could only pass export commodities through Lagos or through Port-Harcourt or Calabar but most of the exports go through Lagos adding that “when the export is not going through Lagos to the port, how can the export leave Nigeria to other countries?”
His words, “Like I said, security agents are killing the export business because they (Northerners) are the only people exporting more consignments out of the country but with the system adopted by the security officials in passing trucks to the, they are killing government efforts by not allowing the northerners to bring their export to Lagos because most of their exports are damaging. They don’t have to take them to the port as and when due. How can someone travel all the way from Kano, coming to Lagos, he cannot access the ports and the goods will damage.”
He further disclosed that the security agents had turned the Lillypond Bridge to an open market where all sorts of atrocities as well as different commodities are traded thereby complicating the already bad traffic situation along the corridor.
The ANLCA Chairman added that a visit to the Bridge as from 7pm, one would see different traders displaying their wares on the Bridge and people parking their cars every corner to see how they would pass their trucks.
He however said, “I think the Police have driven those people out of that place and that place is free now. I really thank God and thank the taskforce for a job well done because I think they are the ones who took the initiative, I didn’t raise false alarm but when I got there yesterday (last week), I discovered that there is a change on this.”
He continued, “But on the export matter, nothing has changed. If you get there now, you wouldn’t see anybody unless the officers that are working. It is better to be so because I don’t know why people should go there to transact business. What are they even doing there?
“When you are trying to go to Lillypond now, on top of the bridge, you see the officers parking their Jeeps, the transporters parking their cars, people are there selling Cigar, Ogogoro, Agbo and so on, they are there because that is a marketplace where you can transact business with those officers who can pass your truck. But when we spoke about it three days ago (last week), we found out that things have changed on top of that bridge.”
Asked to speak on the resumption time for the said market, he said, “Once it is evening, you see the market open; they cannot stay during the day. Go there as from 7pm up till 4am, you will see them; it is a big market place for passing trucks.
“If Oga Opeifa and other officials stop containers coming to Apapa as if Apapa is full, you will not see any motor passing. When you come, you will just say that the road is free; no problem on the road but when it is around 8pm to 4am, come and see the road, that time is their business time. Nobody can come down to check them. But in day time that we are supposed to have a queue, let us have a queue and let the trucks be entering gradually. If my own didn’t go today, if I am on queue for seven day, it will go. But a truck will park in the yard for three weeks with load and somebody will come in the morning, go and come back with empty container to the port in the afternoon. Is that the way to do business?
“I remember when the road was worse than this; containers were not lying on the road like this. They have turned the road to a business point. The so-called taskforce, they have turned the road to business point.
“For instance, how can somebody load container from Apapa and dropped the container outside, at the rate of N100,000 and the shipping company directs you to go and drop the empty container at a holding bay, before you drop the empty container there, you have to pay money, if you don’t pay money, you can’t drop your empty container. You have to pay from N80,000 to N150,000 in order to drop your empty container and having dropped your empty container, before you can come to the port again with your TDO, you have to go and look for a contractor and pay him between N80,000 and N100,000 to pass your truck into the ports.”
Olabanji therefore called on all the clearing agents, the freight forwarders; NAGAFF, ANLCA and others to wake because if they don’t, those security agents would take away their jobs from them.
“This is our only means of livelihood. When you clear a good, you cannot deliver such good to the importer, how can we survive? They have driven many agents out of the system; many have died because they don’t have anything else to do. These people will just be on the road collecting money from Ijora to Apapa, we have more than eight checkpoints where the security agents are collecting N5,000 each. Are they reconstructing the road? What are they doing on the road? They are killing the business. Officers at some checkpoints collect N10,000 just to pass the trucks.”
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