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Criminals impede our business — Truck drivers

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By Usman Oladimeji

Numerous drivers are leaving transportation for lower-paying jobs.

Truck drivers in Nigeria have voiced concern over the dangers they face from organized kidnappers, thieves, and thugs who continuously extort money and inflict harm on them, in addition to the struggles of navigating poorly-maintained roads. This ongoing atrocious trend is leading numerous drivers to leave the transportation industry for lower-paying jobs. Findings indicate that truck owners are facing a shortage of drivers attributed to extortion and illegal road checkpoints, particularly in Lagos state. Additionally, there has been a disturbing rise in the extortion and mistreatment of truck drivers, with both governmental and non-governmental entities partaking in this unlawful act.

This trend is mostly witnessed in Lagos state, particularly in Oshodi-Mile 2 and Tin-Can Island Port Complex (TCIPC) corridors. It is reported that 34 individuals lost their lives between 2022 and 2024 due to their refusal to pay bribes to officials and other individuals operating along these port routes. As a result, many truck drivers are opting to avoid Lagos altogether, heading to different states instead. This trend is also deterring foreign investors from entering the country’s haulage industry.

Business owners are increasingly worried about extortions.

Importers, clearance agents, and truck owners are becoming increasingly worried about the escalating issue of extortion faced by truck drivers from touts and security personnel on the roads of Lagos. One example of the recent disturbing incidents involving louts on Otto-Wharf Mile 2 road which led to a tragic outcome when a thug, in a struggle to take control of the steering wheel, fell off and lost his life. Subsequently, another truck was set on fire in the Amuwo Odofin area of Lagos State as a form of retribution for the incident. Dike Collins, a truck owner interviewed by the media, expressed frustration over the thugs who assaulted his driver and caused his truck to topple while demanding money.

He observed that those running truck businesses in the country were facing significant challenges due to the actions of troublemakers. The main reason for the traffic congestion on the Mile2-Oshodi expressway, he explained, was illegal activities taking place on the bridge and in the Mile 2 area. Sunday Nnanna, a truck driver, reported an issue with area boys and union toll collectors extorting money from truckers at checkpoints along the Mile 2-TinCan corridor. This unlawful activity, along with the actions of security and traffic officials, is contributing to the chaos and lack of order in traffic flow at the location.

Smooth operation of transportation businesses is hindered.

Nnanna stated that security officers turned blind eyes instead of stopping troublemakers and illegal toll collectors from causing traffic jams and issuing unauthorized tickets to truck drivers. He expressed frustration that the traffic and security personnel presence do little to improve traffic flow because their main focus is not on regulating traffic, but on exploiting the chaos for personal gain. Therefore, he called on Lagos State government to put an end to the disruptive behaviour of area boys and toll collecting unions that are contributing to traffic congestion on the highways.

His suggestion was that unions should refrain from selling tickets to truck drivers who are not affiliated with their organization. Commenting on the incident at Otto-Wharf Mile 2, Lukman Zangalo, chairman of the Lagos State Truck and Cargo Operators Committee (LASTCOC), noted that the incident marks the fourth recorded this year where louts have caused loaded trucks to topple at Otto-Wharff. Zangalo expressed concern over the negative impact of touts and union members harassing truck and cargo operators, stating that it is hindering the smooth operation of transportation businesses in Lagos State.

State government urged to prohibit actions of area boys.

Zangalo revealed that haulage businesses are moving away from Lagos state, while international investors are being dissuaded from investing money in the country. He pointed out that the trucking industry is suffering a decline because of disruptions caused by touts connected to Road Transport Employers’ Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) and National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW). He urged the Lagos state government to implement a complete prohibition on the actions of area boys, while instructing NURTW and RTEAN to refrain from interfering with truck operators and concentrate solely on buses in their designated areas to prevent any violent clashes and chaos.

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