By Mary Nnah
Petroleum Products Depot Owners Association (PPDOA), made up of depot owning companies who utilise the key jetty located long Dockyard Road, Apapa, for discharge, operation and services of petroleum products to various part of the country, particularly Lagos, has cried out over what it termed injustice and unlawful treatment by the management of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) at the Apapa Ports Complex, Lagos.
The injustice, they alleged was being meted by the Port Manager, Mrs. Olufunmilayo Bolanle Olotu, who for a while now, closed the Waziri Jetty in alleged flagrant disobedience to a subsisting court injunction protecting the group’s business operations.
During a briefing in Lagos addressed by the association’s Executive Secretary, Mrs. Trisha Okereke , the group consisting of Hensmor Nigeria Limited; A-Z Petroleum Nigeria Limited; G-Eurafric Nigeria Limited; One Terminal Nigeria Limited; Aiteo Energy and NIPCO Plc, alleged that the “port manager has taken up illegalities against the injunction which mandated that NPA, its agents and/or assigns should not lease out the common user facility of the Waziri Jetty and should not interfere with our petroleum business by preventing use and / or access to the Waziri Jetty”.
Okereke explained further that the injunction was issued to protect the operators’ rights when NPA attempted to stop their business operations in 2007 when the group protested on the lease of the common user jetty land for base oil business, to one of the users of the jetty.
She lamented that, unfortunately, today, the Port manager has locked up the Waziri Jetty, preventing the operators from accessing the jetty for the legitimate operations of their petroleum businesses.
“The port manager’s flawed reasoning is based upon investigating erroneous facts and hearsays from one company whom she claims has been given a lease of the jetty land.
“This admittance which the port manager has made in writing, flouts the subsisting court injunction given in favour of the petroleum company users of the jetty”, Okereke noted.
Speaking further, she said: “As if that was not enough, the port manager took steps to padlock the jetty waterfront, preventing the users of the jetty from accessing it.
Okereke who described this action as a, “clear and unacceptable abuse of power which the current injunction barred, explained that, “the jetty land which is in dispute and contention is one that borders the jetty waterfront area which is the portion of the jetty used for our operations.
“But because we are resisting and protesting any lease and /or use of the jetty land, the port manager has taken actions to sanction our protests by preventing our use of the water front.”
She said Olotu’s actions show a shocking disregard for the law and must there be stopped, adding, “Olotu’s reprisal was in direct reaction to our heavy protests against the alleged lease she claimed was issued to Leader Marketing by NPA”.
PPDOA lamented further that the closure of the jetty has interfered with their businesses and livelihood that the masses derive from them.
They appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari, the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi; members of the National Assembly and all the authorities concerned to come to their rescue.
They urged them to prevail on the port manager, Apapa Ports Complex, to stop her continued lock of the Waziri Jetty as it wantonly interferes with the petroleum business, an industry that is already besieged and almost wiped out by the unfavourable foreign exchange terms and the ravages of COVID 19 in the world’s economic situation today.
All efforts to reach the Apapa Port Manager, Mrs. Olotu was abortive as she couldn’t be reached on phone.
Her PR personnel, Mr. Nasiru, on the other hand, who spoke with THISDAY on phone said he was in a meeting and will get back but he never did till the time of this report.