- NUPENG engages Ambode, Fashola on bad roads
By Ejiofor Alike
In spite of the recent claim by the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru that the reactivation of some of the NNPCâ€™s depots across the country, particularly Mosimi in Ogun State and the Kano depot, had reduced the gridlock on the highways, the reverse is the case in Apapa, Lagos, as the influx of tankers from all parts of the country and the bad state of the roads have worsened the traffic situation in recent days, THISDAYâ€™s investigation has revealed.
The horrendous traffic situation in Apapa was aggravated by the inability of NNPC to pump imported products from the Atlas Cove depot in Lagos to Ejigbo depot also in Lagos and Mosimi depot in Ogun State, Ibadan depot, Ore depot in Ondo State and Ilorin depot â€“ all of which make up NNPCâ€™s System 2B Network that accounts for 60 per cent of petrol supply and distribution in the country.
Investigation also revealed that the re-commissioned Mosimi depot was loading out only 40 tankers daily during the weekend, as against the normal truck-out of over 200 tankers before the pipelines that fed the facility with products were vandalised at the Arepo axis.
However, the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) to which the Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) is affiliated, told THISDAY at the weekend that it was engaging the Lagos State Government and the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola on the bad state of Apapa roads.
Workers and residents of Apapa are increasingly finding it next to impossible to access their offices and homes by road, as tankers from various parts of the country waiting to lift petroleum products from the private depots have blocked the roads, causing pain, frustration and anguish to other road users.
It was also learnt that trucks carrying containers of goods from Apapa ports and those returning empty containers to the ports have also worsened the gridlock.
Speaking during the 2017 World Environment Day (WED) held recently, Baru had stated that the re-commissioned Mosimi and Kano depots had impacted positively on highways across the country, by relieving the impact of long haulage of petroleum products on the roads, shielding the nation from the serious environmental consequences of bridging to motorists, settlements along highways, as well as the general ecosystem in the country.
But THISDAYâ€™s investigation revealed that despite the efforts of the corporation to reactivate some of its 21 depots to reduce the over-dependence of tankers on the private depots at Apapa, virtually all NNPCâ€™s depots under the System 2B Network, the corporationâ€™s most active fuel distribution system, are not yet loading products.
However, NNPC spokesman, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu told THISDAY at the weekend that the important thing was that the â€œtrain has left the stationâ€, as the corporation had started rehabilitating the depots as a result of reduced vandalism.
â€œAnd we are progressing. Today, depots that were not wet are filled with products. We shall get to your target,â€ Ughamadu added.
He also maintained that the number of tankers on Apapa roads had reduced in recent weeks, contrary to THISDAYâ€™s investigation revealing that tankers found it difficult to access Folawiyo and NIPCO depots in Apapa at the weekend to lift products as a result of the traffic congestion.
The Western Zonal Chairman of NUPENG, Alhaji Tokunbo Korodo told THISDAY at the weekend that the bad roads at Apapa were contributing significantly to the pains of tanker drivers and road users of Apapa roads.
He argued that if the tanker drivers withdrew their vehicles in protest against the bad roads, the action would cause a fuel crisis and be viewed as sabotage.
â€œIf there is fuel in the other depots under System 2B, the tanker drivers will go there and load and decongest Apapa. But we donâ€™t understand the policy of the federal government.
â€œPreviously, they suspended loading activities at all the depots in System 2B because of vandalism. But recently, they told us that they had resumed loading but as I speak to you, no loading is taking place in Ibadan, Ore and Ilorin.
â€œEven Mosimi and Ejigbo are just doing skeletal loading. So there is more pressure on Apapa, which is worsened by the closure of Capital Oil. If Capital Oil was loading, it will also reduce pressure on Apapa,â€ Korodo explained.
With all access roads to Apapa in a dilapidated state, petrol tankers and trucks of containers block the roads and inflict severe hardship on other motorists.
Along the Mile 2-Apapa road, motorists spend about four to six hours daily on a 1-kilometre stretch of road between the second gate of Tin Can Island Port and Coconut bus stop, waiting for the removal of containers and vehicles that capsize on a daily basis on account of the bad road and obstruct free flow of traffic for several hours.
The traffic situation is also very bad along the Ojuelegba-Apapa axis, as motorists spend several hours daily waiting behind the long queues of heavy-duty vehicles that obstruct traffic as a result of the bad roads.
Korodo, however, said the tanker drivers were in close contact with the governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode and Fashola on the poor state of Apapa roads.
â€œWe are in close contact with them on the need to put the roads into use and they have continued to make promises. If we evacuate our trucks from the roads in protest, it will affect fuel distribution and be viewed as sabotage,â€ Korodo added.
Fashola said recently that the federal government would require N100 billion to construct Apapa roads, adding that the design and other requirements needed for the reconstruction of the roads were ready.