Lagos Restricts Tankers to Designated Route

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• Wants road worthiness certificates for articulated vehicles

By Gboyega Akinsanmi

The Lagos State Government yesterday restricted the operation of fuel tankers to designated trailer route due to an explosion that claimed nine lives on Otedola Bridge along the Lagos-Ibadan expressway last Thursday.

Also, the government said it was now mandatory for all articulated trucks coming into the state to obtain the Ministry of Transportation’s Road Worthiness Certificate at any of the designated centres within the next 30 days.

The directive was issued at an inter-ministerial news conference, which the Commissioner for Transportation, Mr. Ladi Lawanson and his Special Duties and Intergovernmental Relations counterpart, Mr. Oluseye Oladejo addressed at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre, Alausa yesterday.

They addressed the conference after a meeting with all relevant stakeholders including Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO), Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD), National Association of Transport Operators (NATO), Container Truck Owners Association of Nigeria, among others.

At the conference, Lawanson specifically disclosed that the decision became necessary following preliminary investigation into the incident, which he said, revealed a combination of vehicular defect and human errors.

Lawanson said: “As an immediate response to the latest incident, the Lagos State Government hereby announces the following measures: Fuel tankers are hereby directed to ply the designated trailer route, that is, Apapa-Oworonshoki Expressway via Ogudu to Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

“All tankers and containers coming into the state are directed to obtain the Ministry of Transportation Certificate of Road Worthiness at any of or centres within the next 30 days, while new centres along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway will be established to quickly to cope with the expected demand for this service.”

He listed the 10 centres currently available to process the applications to include Berger, Ojodu; Odogunyan, Ikorodu; Agric/Ishawo Road, Ikorodu; Worksyard, PWD, Shogunle; NCI, Gbagada; VIS Yard, Oko-Afo, Badagry; VIS Yard, Ayobo-Ipaja; Test Centre, Badagry; VIS Yard, Epe; and VIS Yard, Oko-Oba Abattoir.

He said preliminary investigation showed the affected tanker which exploded was registered in Nasarawa Local Government, Kano State with registration number NSR 888 YC, and had changed ownership 13 times since purchase.

“The tanker was manufactured in 1999 by Mack Trucks Inc at its assembly plant in Winnsboro, United States. This truck was designed as a 14,959kg (approximately 15 tonnes) drilling rig with low bed, but it was converted in Nigeria from a drilling rig to fuel tank carrier to carry 30 tonnes.

“From our investigation, the tanker should not have been loaded to the weight of 30 tonnes, which is twice its pulling capacity. Investigation into the current ownership of the tanker and other related details is progressing.”

He said the state government did not entirely restrict the operation of tankers to certain hours, noting that any restriction of such would undermine supplies and threaten the wellbeing of the Nigerian economy since there is high demand for petroleum products across Nigeria.

He explained that imported petroleum products could no longer be pumped from import jetties at Atlas Cove through pipelines to Ejigbo Depots in Lagos, Mosimi in Ogun, Ibadan in Oyo, Ilorin in Kwara and Ore in Ondo due to pipeline vandalism

He, however, said the state government was already exploring alternative modes of transportation of petroleum products to separate passenger traffic from cargo movements within the metropolis in the interest of the public safety and order.

He also said that the state government, in partnership with all the stakeholders, would set up joint-enforcement of the operating laws, while barriers would be installed on bridges in Lagos to prevent articulated trucks including Ojuelegba, Mobolaji Bank Anthony, Ekodeso, Abule-Egba, Lekki-Ajah, among others.

Giving update on the accident, Oladejo said out of the four injured persons that were taken away from the scene, one unfortunately died while government is taking full responsibility for the treatment of others.     

He particularly denied allegations that some victims were rejected by the General Hospital in Surulere, noting that the victims were only taken to LASUTH, Ikeja and Burns and Trauma Centre in Gbagada.

He said nine people “died at the incident. They were burnt beyond recognition. We have set up a helpline at LASEMA to try and open a communication channel with members of the public and with family members of the victims.”

Under DNA is conducted on the dead victims, the commissioner note that the state government would end up giving the wrong bodies to some families to go and inter and that would become another issue entirely.

“This kind of situation really calls for patience and understanding on the part of members of the public and most especially families of victim. As much as we sympathize and commiserate, things still have to be done professionally.

“As a government, we are alive to our responsibility. Our core duty is to ensure lives and properties are safe. We are committed to this. We have invested massively on issues bothering on emergency and response.”

He dismissed insinuation that the integrity of Otedola Bridge “has been compromised following the incident. There is no iota of truth in such report while the state government will fix the damaged section of the road.”