Thursday, 11 February 2016

NPA PROBES SECURITY AGENTS OVER ALLEGED EXTORTION AT SEAPORTS

The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has raised a committee charged with the responsibility of investigating alleged extortion leveled against security agents by truck drivers operating at the seaports in Lagos State.

Under the chairmanship of the General Manager, Western Ports, Chief Michael K. Ajayi, the committee is also expected to address truck driver’s allegation of extortion at Seaports entrance gates and along Port access roads within the Lagos Ports Corridor. Memberships of the Committee are drawn from the NPA truckers unions, fleet operators, and Security Agencies.

According to NPA, truckers union represented on the Committee include representatives of Truck Owners Unions, Association of Maritime Transport Owners (AMARTO), Joint Council of Seaport Truck Operators (JACOST), National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Road Transport Employees association of Nigeria (RTEAN) and Truck Drivers Unit of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN).

Ajayi explained that the composition of the Committee became necessary following repeated complaints by truck drivers of alleged extortion by security operatives at the Seaport entrance in Lagos.

Pledging to verify all allegations, Ajayi explained that the Committee is determined to refer any erring security personnel or agency to appropriate law enforcement agencies for necessary action.

The truck drivers had blamed alleged extortion for the unending vehicular traffic in the Apapa Port vicinity, pointing out that the frequent cases of e extortion has made loading in Lagos Ports a nightmare for both drivers and transport agents.

Meanwhile, NPA has reiterated its determination to always cater for the welfare of workers. Ajayi enjoined all categories of workers in the organisation to always strive to offer their best in the discharge of their duties.

Speaking before he commissioned the refurbished Break Lounge for the security personnel of the Lagos Port Complex [LPC] Apapa, Ajayi said: “To whom much is given much is expected.’’

He urged the security personnel of the Ports who are the direct beneficiaries of the Lounge, to realise the sensitive position they occupy in the management’s vision of providing an efficient Ports service in a safe, secured and Customer friendly environment.

Earlier in her welcome address, the Port Manager Lagos Port Complex, Mrs Ezeoke Eunice Ngozi, explained that the lounge was achieved as a result of long time planning and painstaking patience by relevant departments in the Port. She recalled that the essence of the facility was to ensure that security personnel were comfortable whilst on duty.

A statement issued by NPA’s General Manager (Public Affairs), Capt. Iheanacho Ebubeogu, quoted Hajia Halima Abdul of the Occupational & Health Department as saying the Lounge was a thing of joy to the Management of the Port and appealed to prospective users to make good use of the place during break time to refresh themselves from the hazards of noise and human/vehicular pressure from Ports users.

Meanwhile to tackle traffic gridlock along ports access roads in Lagos State, Abdullahi has called for the provision of adequate rail lines from the ports to major cities in Nigeria.
Addressing a stakeholder’s forum comprising of Senate Committee on Marine and other stakeholders in Lagos, recently, Abdullahi described NPA as the most affected organisation,

 “We (NPA) are very eager to see that permanent solution is preferred to the problem”, he said recalling that in the past, rail lines convey cargoes from the ports to other parts of the country, adding that the resuscitation of these services will further reduce the hardship being faced by commuters and other stakeholders.

According to Abdullahi, transportation of petroleum products by rail from the ports to the North, particularly Kano, which he witnessed as a youth no longer exist. He called on relevant agencies to rise up to this challenge by reviving rail network in the country.While pledging the readiness of the Authority to complement the efforts of other agencies whose responsibilities it is to provide the needed facilities, Abdullahi suggested that petroleum products could also be transported through pipe from the ports to other destinations.

The Chairman of the committee and former Governor of Zamfara State, Senator Yerima Ahmed Sani, explained that the committee embarked on the exercise as a result of the resolutions passed by the Senate expressing concern about the gridlock.He said the committee will not leave any stone unturned in ensuring that the problem of gridlock in Apapa is solved.

Sani called on all stakeholders to come up with suggestions on how best to combat the menace, pointing out that whatever affects the efficiency of the port operations affect the Nation’s economy. (Guardian)