In addition to the poor condition of the port access roads, extortion by security and traffic control officials remain the major cause of the unending gridlock along Apapa-Oshodi Expressway.”
The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) on Sunday resolved to embark on industrial action by Wednesday to protest against the takeover of Apapa-Oshodi Expressway by heavy-duty trucks. This was as stakeholders in the maritime sub-sector – importers, exporters, freight forwarders, clearing and forwarding agents, and truck owners – expressed concerns over the worsening gridlock along the access road at Lagos ports.
Players in the industry alleged that security operatives at Apapa Premier Port and the Tin Can Island Port Complex (TCIPC) worsen their woes through graft and extortion.
The stakeholders have severally accused officials of the Security Department, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the military, the police, and the Presidential Task Team on Apapa Gridlock, who were deployed to manage traffic in the area, of massive extortion.
They lamented that in addition to the poor condition of the port access roads, extortion by security and traffic control officials remained the major cause of the unending gridlock along Apapa-Oshodi Expressway and, by extension, negating the Ease of Doing Business agenda of the Federal Government.
According to reports, a well-organised racket of security officials at the Tin Can Island Port Complex and the Ijora Bridge, extort between N70,000 and N200,000 per truck before such trucks are allowed into the ports.
The industry players lamented that the government and those doing business at the ports are losing close to N3 trillion to poor ports access roads, dilapidated infrastructure, and graft.
The foregoing has caused a gridlock that has negatively impacted Apapa and its environment, which has made life not only unbearable for residents of the area but also crippled businesses located on the axis.
This compelled MWUN to convoke a meeting at the weekend to sensitize stakeholders in the maritime sector on the need for the strike. This was endorsed by the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) and Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) in separate statements.
President-General of MWUN, Prince Adeyanju Adewale, who dropped a hint of the strike, said the union would decide its next line of action if, after the three days, the government failed to fix the roads leading to the two ports and the area and address the accompanying traffic bottleneck.
Adewale added that the strike ought to have taken place before now but noted that it was suspended because of appeals by the government.
“We have decided to put the warning strike on hold till Wednesday, December 9, to sensitise other stakeholders in the ports why we have to embark on the warning strike,” he said. “Since the information became public, many of them have been calling and begging for time.
“They insisted that they are not against our action because the seemingly intractable gridlock is also affecting them and that they are indeed in total support of our planned action. But they said it is too sudden and pleaded that we give them time to prepare. So, we have decided to give them two days to prepare. Consequently, the warning strike will now start on Wednesday, December 9,” added Adewale.
Leaders of the union, while giving reasons the members would withdraw their services nationwide and embark on three-day industrial action, said they were disenchanted by the deplorable state of the access roads to the Apapa and Tin Can Island ports which had claimed several lives and caused incalculable man-hour losses, among other dangers as a result of unending gridlock.
The three-day warning strike is one of the resolutions of the union’s National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held in Lagos.