Truck drivers have expressed their excitement at the seamless movement of vehicles along the Oshodi – Apapa expressway leading to the nation’s second busiest seaport, the Tin-Can Island Port.
The road which has been reconstructed had previously been taken over by shanties and extortion points mounted by urchins.
Just yesterday, the Lagos State Taskforce on environmental Sanitation arrested about 51 members of the gang who mounted different check points to harass and extort truck drivers.
Some of the truck drivers who hailed the efforts of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) said the presence of collection points also add to the high cost of haulage.
An articulated truck driver who identified himself as Tolu Awoshika, said: “We now enjoy free movement in and out of Tin-Can Port. This experience is so exciting to me.”
Another driver, Ibrahim sani said he couldn’t believe his eyes when he drove into Lagos after the new year holiday.
“Unlike before, when it takes not less than three weeks to drive from Mile 2 to Tin-Can, right now it is easier as the return journey takes less than ten minutes” he said.
Director, Press & Public Affairs of the State Taskforce, Gbadeyan Abdulraheem, said the arrested gang operated with impunity, in a manner that subject many drivers to physical harm, especially when they resist extortion.
“We have been on the trail of this gang for a while after receiving several complaints from road users who ply this corridor. We even heard of Instances of drivers who refused to comply and later faced violent threats, including the removal of essential truck components such as batteries and mirrors right on the expressway” he stated.
The Director of Press expressed disgust at the manner in which the miscreants wreak unnecessary havoc on the Highways in the name of Parks and Garages despite the official pronouncement on the ban on all illegal activities late last year.
“The guts to perform these acts are quite baffling. They threaten their victims at day time and night with no regard for existing law and order in the State. Unfortunately, we have come to put an end to this jungle justice and they will no longer be allowed to operate anywhere in the State,” he said.
One of the victims, Victor Aiyegbosi, a truck driver with one of the transport companies who was at their mercy recently described them as inhumane in their dealings. He disclosed that they damage trucks by ripping off cables and shattering the windows and mirrors just to have their way. “The Taskforce assisting us here is the best thing that has happened to us this year so far,” he stated.
All 51 apprehended suspects have been charged to court where eight out of them pleaded guilty and were sentenced to seven months imprisonment with an option of N65,000 fine. The remaining 43 pleaded not guilty and their hearing adjourned till March 1.
The arrest is in line with the existing collaboration between NPA and the Lagos State Government, which is aimed at ensuring seamless movement of vehicles along the Mile 2 – Tin-Can expressway.
The collaboration has also seen both NPA and the Lagos State government cleared the entire stretch of the road of shanties and extortion points mounted by urchins.
Petrol tankers and trailers were also affected as they have been evacuated from the Cele Bus Stop inward Tin Can Port axis along the Apapa-Oshodi expressway.
The move is aimed at curbing the indiscriminate parking of heavy-duty vehicles causing traffic congestion in the area.