The General Manager Western Ports, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Chief Michael Ajayi has denied media report which quoted him as alluding to the fact that truckers lose as much as N5 billion annually to extortion from the NPA Security operatives at the ports in the zone.
An online medium (not Primetime Reporters) had on Tuesday reported that truck drivers operating at the Western Ports of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Lagos; lose over N5bn annually to extortion by security operatives of the NPA at port gate.
The medium went ahead to quote the Chairman, Coalition of Port Dry Cargo Transport Operators (CPDCTO), Inuwa Abdulahi as saying that the General Manager, Western Ports, Michael Ajayi admitted to the extortion recently that he said truckers are losing about N5bn yearly.
“You see extortions before accessing the ports are at the high level even the GM Ajayi admitted when he visited the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) but they have not done anything to stop it”, the newspaper quoted.
But in a telephone interview with Primetime Reporters on Tuesday, Chief described the allegation as false adding that the authority had earlier challenged the truckers to come up with any evidence which they had failed to do till date.
He added that NPA was ready to investigate any proof of extortion against any of its official at the port gates but was incapacitated by the inability of the truckers to do the needful.
The General Manager stated that contrary to allegation that the authority was said to have set up a committee on anti-extortion at the gate but refused to inaugurate the committee since 2012, it was the truckers who refused to make themselves available for the Managing Director to inaugurate the committee.
Chief Ajayi accused the drivers of extorting their principals by using NPA Security as alibi and not NPA security charging them to provide the authority with evidence such as names of the officer (s) and the time at which he collected the money and the authority would investigate.
According to him,”It is false, the truckers themselves have not brought any evidence against any security official or against any NPA official. We challenged them to produce evidence and we will investigate and if we found any culprit, the Managing Director is going to take action immediately but they have not given us anybody.
“They will always say they collect money from us here, they collect money from us there, so we have told their principals, don’t give them again. They may be telling lies that we have settled this person, settled that person, the drivers themselves are the ones extorting their principals not NPA security. They are just using NPA security as an alibi, if not, they should provide evidence, they should write a letter, mention the person’s name, the particular time that he collects the money so that we can investigate but they have refused to.
“We have to set up a Committee on anti-extortion and they refused to make themselves available for the MD to inaugurate it. At a meeting, we formally set it up but rather than come up so that we can now write the MD for the inauguration, that was when they started saying that they cannot pay this, they cannot pay that and they are now mixing entry permit with extortion, are they not two different issues?
“So, we are now emphasizing minimum standard, before you can come here, make sure that you are in order, I don’t know how that one is an offence and we now said entry permit is N10, 000.00 per annum and if you divide N10, 000.00 by 365 days, it gives a little above N27 and with that you can enter the ports as many time as possible, you can enter Apapa, you can enter Tincan”.
He however opined that the problem was that the truckers were looking at the cost of going to buy those things the authority had asked them to fix in their vehicles adding that,” when they are paid by their clients, they don’t invest a dime in their trucks, they eat everything and we can’t allow the road users to die just because of somebody’s carelessness”.
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