17 July 2014, Lagos – Except drastic measures are taken by the the authorities to clear the stifling traffic hiccup in the Apapa area of Lagos State, all the nation’s seaports would in less than two weeks from now be shut down.
This followed a 14-day ultimatum issued by the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) to the Federal Government to evacuate all petrol tankers and other heavy duty vehicles along the access roads to the seaports, failing which all ports operations nationwide would be shut down.
The union had in a July 9, 2014, petition it sent to the Federal Government through the Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, also demanded for the relocation of all the tank farms and rehabilitation of all the access roads to the seaports within the next 14 days for industrial peace to reign in the ports.
In the petition signed by its Secretary General, Comrade Aham Ubani, lamented that incessant gridlock on the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway had practically shut down all economic and other activities on the Oshodi-Apapa axis beside inflicting untold hardships on residents and businesses in Apapa and environs.
“We observe with dismay that petrol tankers and trailers have permanently taken over the access roads to our seaports; Apapa and Tin Can Island ports in particular. The resultant gridlock caused by the indiscriminate parking of the petrol tankers and trailers that daily want to load petrol from the tank farms along the access roads to the seaports has made movement of people and goods in and out of our
seaports and work places within the Apapa industrial and commercial area impossible. The deep potholes along the roads, which are better described as gullies have now turned death traps, is another contributory factor to the unprecedented grid lock that daily occur on the roads.
“The utter neglect of the access roads has not only compromised the efficiency and service delivery of the ports due to the huge loss in man-hour incurred daily on the roads; and this has no doubt impacted negatively on the national economy. We have repeatedly called on the government to relocate the tank farms along the Tin Can and Apapa Ports access roads for both safety of lives and property and for economic reasons”, the statement read.
It added, “However, in spite of the assurance given that the tank farm would be relocated; we are surprised that up till date, nothing has been done. In consequence of the foregoing, we are hereby giving a 14-day ultimatum effective from the date of this letter within which: – all the potholes along the port access roads be fixed; all the tank farms built along the port access roads be relocated to another place where it would not inhibit free-flow of traffic and all the petrol tankers and trailers be removed from the ports’ access roads”.
In a similar fashion, the Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD), an affiliate of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), has given the Federal Government two months to fix the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway to avoid fuel scarcity.
PTD National Public Relations Officer, Comrade Adebayo Atanda, said though the union was not contemplating a strike, it might be impossible to access the tank farms along the axis and lift the petroleum products if the roads were not repaired.
Atanda said if the rain continued with the same intensity it had been falling in recent weeks, it might not take more than two months before the road failed with Apapa becoming inaccessible.
He said,“When this happens, we might not be able to do our business of lifting these petroleum products because we may not be able to access the depots talk less of lifting petroleum products; if we all realise the importance of the centrality of this road to the entire country as the only road from where fuel is moved to every part of the country, then its repairs should be given the urgency it deserves”.
According to him, 56 tank farms were located in Lagos State alone, out of which 35 were located along the Kirikiri, Trinity junction axis along the wharf/Tin Can road.
This, he added, was where the condition of the road were most deplorable, causing extreme inconvenience to residents, tanker drivers and other road users, maintaining that the PTD was worried because that was the only road plied by all its members nationwide.
“Petroleum tankers come in from every part of this country to lift fuel from these tank farms, most of which are along the largest in the country and these tank farms arre specifically permitted to be in this axis because of its closeness to the wharf, so there is so much pressure on the road as a result of the heavy commercial and industrial activity that cluster around the port, which is the busiest in the country”.
– Daily Newswatch