Truck owners have debunked allegations that the Presidential Task Force set up to control traffic in Apapa are demanding bribes from them in the discharge of their duties.
Speaking on the development in Apapa axis, the Chairman of Amalgamation of Container Trucks Owners, Chief Olalaye Thompson commended the intervention of the presidential task force headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to clear up the gridlock in Apapa and its environs, saying that the ”team has restored the lost glory of the axis”.
According to him, prior to the intervention of the Osinbajo-led presidential taskforce, they paid as much as N150,000 or more to access the port, saying that ”corrupt practices which took place under the previous joint taskforce led by the Nigerian Navy were responsible for the persistent gridlock in the axis.
He said: ”The way the previous joint taskforce operated was alien to the whole system, when it is 9 to 10 in the morning, they stopped truck from crossing until the 8 pm in the evening and during the period of the stoppage, and the gridlock would have built up. People were then forced to bribe their way to the port.
”Then it became the highest bidder show. The drivers were force to bid for the amount they can afford to pass. Somebody can offer N100,000 while another one can offer N120,000 or more”.
But harping on the restoration of sanity in the area, Chief Thompson said ”most Nigerians and all the commuters in the axis can testify to the fact that the new presidential taskteam has done perfectly well since the inception of its operation”.
According to the haulager, the era of bribing security personnel and other touts who take as much as N150,000 or N100,000 to access the port has gone for good, saying only those who have genuine document now have access to the port.
He said: “I am saying this with all sense of responsibility nobody can say that he is paying N20,000 to access the port. As the leader of the truck owners, if anyone is paying such there is no way I will not know.
”Our members must have come to tell that there is no different between the presidential taskteam and other previous taskforce in the area. Under the previous joint taskforce led by the Nigerian Navy, a lot of blunder was perpetrated people pay as high as N150,000 and N200,000 before they could cross”.
Also speaking a member of the Presidential Task team, who refused to give out his name, said so many touts who disguised as law enforcement agents to swindle truckers had been arrested and detained.
He said those criticizing the presidential taskteam in the media were those who benefitted from the old corrupt system which the Vice President has been able to remove on Apapa axis.