The Group Managing Director of NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru (R) in a handshake with Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State after Baru's presentation of a Lead Paper on the theme: "Nigeria's Gas Flare Commercialisation, Prospects & Opportunities' at the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston, USA last week.
There are fresh indications that a special task force under the Lagos State Government has begun the relocation of all petroleum tankers to the Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (ABAT) truck park in Orile Iganmu area of Lagos state in other to ease traffic congestion on access roads to the petroleum tank farms in Apapa.
Confirming this to Shipping Position Daily in Lagos last week, an official of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) branch of National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG); Alhaji Alao Lateef said that tanker drivers are now being directed from mile 2, to make a U-turn for the ABAT trailer park from where they would be processed and called upon to load at the depot.
He also said that “those who are accessing Apapa from Ijora axis are not allowed to go beyond Ijora, the task force is moving everybody to Orile in order to decongest Apapa. But this is not favourable to us and our business.”
Some of the tanker drivers have equally raised concerns that the ABAT truck park was charging them N1, 000 on daily basis and that this is not bearable. They disclosed to our correspondent last week that this was why many chose to park on the roads leading to Sunrise Coconut axis of Apapa Oshodi expressway. The drivers pleaded that the N1, 000 was too high and needed to be reduced.
Also speaking with Shipping Position Daily, another official of the PTD, Comrade Fidel Aisodiounne called on the government to expand the ABAT truck terminal to be able to accommodate more trucks. He argued that as it is, the park lacks capacity to handle all tankers coming to Apapa to load products.
He noted that the Orile truck park was a joint venture between the Lagos state government and the PTD and that the project was meant to be developed in phases.
Apart from the ABAT truck park, Comrade Aisodiounne noted that other tank farm owners including Capital Oil, Folawiyo, MRS, Ibeto, Ascon oil all have truck parks which should be utilized by the tanker drivers.
He said “The Lagos state and PTD NUPENG joint venture is at Orile, only phase one was developed. Phase two and phase three are still pending. If concerted efforts are made, it is workable and feasible”
He noted that the gridlock being experienced in Apapa and environ was caused by the federal government itself during port concession in 2006.
“The holding bay provided for Tin Can and RoRo port was given out by the Obasanjo -led govt. So, if the shipping companies, petroleum depots and haulage companies can own their holding bay, it will go a long way in solving the traffic problem on our roads especially in Apapa and Apapa link road”, he stated.
Recall that the Lagos State Government, Akinwunmi Ambode at a recent meeting in Apapa promised that the State Government would immediately take over the ABAT Truck Terminal Orile-Iganmu and commence immediate repairs on the terminal as part of efforts to permanently address the perennial traffic in Apapa axis majorly caused by breakdown of operations in Apapa.
Ambode said the ABAT Truck Terminal has a capacity to accommodate at least 3000 trucks, adding that the government was already working with security agencies to see how some of the trucks parked on the Western Avenue Bridge would be moved into the park.
“I cannot end this address without acknowledging that in Apapa, we have a major challenge; the menace of trucks on our roads and bridges causing endless traffic and loss of business time by Lagosians. This is why we have come here today. To see for ourselves and find a solution.
“Effective today, our government will take over the ABAT Truck Terminal Orile-Iganmu and commence immediate repairs to make the park ready for effective use. In the meantime, we will appeal to the Tanker Drivers Association to conduct themselves in an orderly manner and cooperate with our Task Force to ensure smooth flow of traffic and better access to the Ports.