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Lagos communities decry parking of trucks on expressway

Published by Tribune on Tue, 03 Feb 2015

Residents of Berger Yard, Sunrise and Coconut communities in Apapa area of Lagos have continued to lament what they deem the turning of the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway into parking lot by tank farm operators.According to them, the presence of fuel trucks and trailers in the communities has continued to bring untold hardship on residents, including operators of businesses on that axis, who are often made to lose valuable man-hours in traffic.Based on a recent Community News findings, the problem is not unconnected to the presence of fuel depots scattered in different parts of Apapa where 33,000-litre trucks come from different parts of Lagos and Nigeria to be filled up. Needless to say, this causes the problem of gridlock along the route. The problem always arises, when trucks, after becoming filled with petrol, become trapped in the same gridlocks they have created, sometimes for hours. Apart from the problem of gridlock, this development is believed to also raise the risk and danger of fuel tanker explosions as witnessed in recent years.However, the Lagos State government is known to have continued to express displeasure over the activities of tank farms operators. After much threat from the government, such trucks are subsequently withdrawn from the road, but usually, they return soon after, and the whole cycle starts all over again.A recent survey carried out on the expressway, especially at the Berger/Sunrise/Coconut axis of the road showed that the tank farms operating such trucks have once again gone back to their old ways.In these communities, giant vehicles belonging to various oil companies were seen to have taken over most sections of the service lane, while at the same time extending to the main expressway.Needless to say, this attitude, together with the ongoing road repair on the expressway, was observed to have led to massive gridlocks. Expectedly, the gridlock problem becomes even more noticeable in the evenings when many Lagos residents would have been through with their business for the day and heading back home.A closer look at the places where such trucks are parked would reveal the extent at which the road and the drainage system have been poorly used. Refuse are dumped into drainages, and gutters have also been turned into public toilets. Foul smell and the stench of filth have, therefore, become a regular occurrence at such spots.Sunny Adesua, while sharing his displeasure about the menace caused by the trucks in a recent chat, accused the Federal Government of not doing much to support the efforts of the Lagos State government to ensure that the problem became a thing of the past."I have been living in this area for over eight years, and I can tell you that the problem keeps on getting worse every year. Apapa has a lot of fuel depots where tankers come from all over Lagos and beyond to lift petrol. This exposes we the residents to the risk of fuel explosion. The havoc wreaked by such explosions is usually aggravated by the gridlocks always experienced on the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, and which are usually caused by the tankers themselves," he said."On several occasions, residents and traders here have called on the government to find a lasting solution to the problem, but often, the government would momentarily swoop on the parked trucks, only for the cycle to continue again," added Mr Adesua, who claimed to have witnessed no fewer than 15 tanker explosions since he moved to Apapa.Also commenting on the issue was a resident of Sunrise area of the expressway, Mrs Amarachi Okoli, who saw impounding of trucks and sanctioning of oil companies whose truck drivers are found to have runafoul of traffic rules in the state as the only solution to the gridlock and explosion problems on the road.Meanwhile, an official of the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), who craved for anonymity, explained that the time required for each tanker to be filled was a major factor contributing to the long queue of tankers often seen on the road.'It takes an average of eight minutes for a 33,000-litre oil tanker to be filled up, but nothing less than 500 tankers have to be filled every day. Therefore, this often leads to a situation whereby tankers which are on oil schedule wait for a very long time before they can be attended to,' he stated.When commenting on the development recently, the Commissioner for Transportation in Lagos, Mr Kayode Opeifa, called on the Federal Government, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and other stakeholders to find a lasting solution to the problem, saying they must take responsibility for the problem.'The Federal Government has failed in its responsibility to find a functional means for petroleum products to be transported, especially because since there is no functional refinery in the country, everyone has to come to Lagos to lift PMS (premium motor spirit) and other products," he stated.
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