The failure of the road traffic gridlock in the Apapa area of Lagos to abate has been attributed to the refusal of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Petroleum Pipeline and Marketing Company (PPMC) to comply with last week’s stakeholder agreement that they channel petroleum products’ distribution to depots outside the area.
Last week’s meeting which held in Apapa was chaired by Sylvester Monye, chairman of the Presidential Taskforce on Monitoring, Performance and Evaluation, who represented the Federal Government, and had most of the stakeholders in attendance, including the Lagos State Government, which was represented by Kayode Opeifa, the state commissioner for transportation.
Stakeholders including Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) NNPC, PPMC, Nigerian Association of Road Transport Oweners (NARTO), Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), port operators and business managers in Apapa, agreed on a number of positions during last Thursday’s meeting.
The agreements included that the NNPC and PPMC should channel the distribution of fuel to private jetties outside Apapa, especially those in Mosimi, Ejigbo, Ibadan and Ilorin, from where tankers would lift fuel, so as to reduce congestion in Apapa.
It was also agreed that the hundreds of fuel tankers which flood the Apapa area to lift fuel from tank farms, for onward distribution across the country, be removed to allow for the completion of a trailer park under construction there.
The trailer park, when completed, will accommodate many of the tankers which typically park on the roads, obstructing the flow of traffic. It was further agreed that henceforth, only tankers which have orders and have been called up, would be allowed into Apapa.
This is to put a stop to the obstruction caused by prospecting and unscheduled tankers.
But when Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola came visiting Apapa for the third Sunday running yesterday, seeking solution to the traffic congestion in the area,he was told that the NNPC and PPMC had failed to comply with the agreement to channel fuel distribution out of the area.
Also accused of promoting the Apapa congestion are the port operators, particularly AP Moller, which is said to be operating with inadequate cargo handling equipment, resulting in hundreds of trucks crowding Apapa and its access roads on their way to the port, due to slow turn-around time.
One of the stakeholders, Aloga Ogbogo, general manager, administration of NARTO, who spoke yesterday, during Fashola’s visit, said the NNPC and PPMC were yet to comply with the position reached at a meeting last week.
Their accusation comes as Fashola said he would not give up on Apapa until it is decongested and the degraded environment is restored, and businesses that have relocated from area can come back.
The governor however said that while the state was committed to this, the federal government must take responsibility for its facilities within Apapa; the ports and major roads, which at the moment are grossly mismanaged, resulting in pain for residents, businesses and motorists in Lagos.
“This is clearly a multi-agencies problem involving the agencies of the federal government: NNPC, Federal Ministry of Works and ports managers.
“The bridge coming into Apapa is threatened. It’s just incomprehensible to me. I have never seen a nation that behaves like this in its commercial capital.
“We won’t give up, this is our job. It’s a problem created by men and must be solved by men. So, we won’t give up, we will continue to flush the traffic. We are working on inner roads in Apapa, about seven to eight inner roads are undergoing construction, even the contractors working on the roads cannot move equipment to site because of the failure of the Federal Government. We won’t abdicate our responsibility. We will continue to work with stakeholders and hope that the Federal Government will listen.
“Concessioning of the ports is more than signing paper, it requires people to make investment, cargo handling equipment is in short supply, there are only two equipment attending to about 40 trucks.
“You have heard that it will be easier if they came out to do spot checking and clearance for all the trucks, so that they can go in batches of 20. Certainly someone at the gate of the port prefers to take one at a time. Perhaps there are some financial benefits in doing that. There is some corruption suggested in that process,” said Fashola during the visit.