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Truckers write to Lagos govt, lament extortion by LASTMA, LG officials

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The Association of Maritime Truck Owners no (AMATO) have written to the Lagos State Government, lamenting extortions by officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and officials of some local government in the State, including the committee set up for the removal of abandoned trucks.

In a letter signed on Sunday by the Chairman of AMATO, Chief Remi Ogungbemi, the truckers lamented that they pay about N100,000 to N200,000 to these officials to secure the release of their trucks.

According to the letter, “We are using this medium to draw the attention of the Lagos State Government on the worrisome and increasing ignoble activities of its traffic agencies and some Local Governments traffic departments in charge of traffic management and control in Lagos State.

Some of these agencies and their activities are as follows:- Committee on the Removal of Abandoned Trucks; LASTMA and some Local Governments officials.

For the Committee on the Removal of Abandoned Trucks, they invade various empty container depots at midnight to hijack trucks not constituting any road obstruction on the normal single lane to either drop or load empty containers. They always go with hoodlums that are armed with dangerous weapons.

“They beat and injure drivers and their motor boys in the process of hijacking trucks. They forcefully collect trucks from drivers and drive the trucks away to their various yards while booking the trucks as being towed. After this, they slam bills ranging between N100,000 to N200,000 200k as ransom before the trucks can be released. The amount can only be reduced if you know somebody at the top.

“For LASTMA officials, they go about like Hawks searching for Chickens to catch. They arrest trucks that have not committed any traffic infraction indiscriminately and unnecessarily day and night.

“In most cases, they don’t correct drivers on following the right way. if the driver misses or is about to miss his way, instead of correcting the driver, they’ll rather hide and wait for the driver to enter the wrong way before coming out to make an arrest and impose a heavy penalty.

“They arrest and slam penalty on any breakdown mechanism including a truck that is inevitable. No amount of maintenance can totally prevent the breakdown of any mechanism anywhere in the world. The breakdown has become their means of bread and butter. They always impose N100,000- N150,000 just for removing a broken down truck from the road whereas we normally pay N20,000 to N30,000 to private towing operators to move our broken-down trucks depending on the location and distances.

“Also, some local governments are also involved in blocking and arresting trucks on federal and state roads in order to impose tickets on truckers in collaboration with hoodlums.

“Most of the traffic agencies work with Street Urchins (Area boys) all over the State metropolis. Apart from working as their informants, these hoodlums sometimes deliberately immobilise trucks by loosening truck breaks, deflating tyres, removing truck batteries and container hooks in order to force drivers to settle them or invite LASG traffic agencies to come and arrest, tow or drive them to their yard under such questionable circumstances and slam outrageous bills.

“Therefore, in the light of the above, I considered it necessary to use this medium to draw the attention of our Governor to the devouring activities of traffic agencies in Lagos State in collaboration with hoodlums otherwise, it might lead to another crisis like the #ENDSARS protest in Lagos State.”

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