Against the backdrop of perennial traffic gridlock which has taken over the Apapa-Oshodi expressway and the Apapa-Wharf road, the Federal Government has assured that there would no longer be issuance of approval for the construction of petroleum tank farms within Apapa area, even as it has called for expressions of interest (EoI) from private sector for the operation of trailer parks and holding bays in the Tin Can Island area.
Downstream operators have however condemned the promise by the government, describing it as a political statement that is only implementable on pages of newspaper.
In a series of posts on the Federal Government’s official twitter handle which was monitored by Shipping Position Daily last week, the government equally assured that new trailer parks would be constructed for petroleum tankers and container laden trailers in addition to a promise to fix the dilapidated ports’ access roads. These were part of intervention plans rolled out by the government last week.
Our correspondent last week gathered that the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), the Lagos State Government, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) had given an approval to a company called WADECO for the construction of a bitumen tank farm along Creek Road in Apapa. The development was however kicked against by maritime stakeholders and this had caused the Federal Government to cancel further issuance of licenses for tank farm construction by the DPR.
The new tank farm currently under construction on Creek Road, Apapa could hold up to 50 million litres of petroleum products, which can serve about 800 trucks per day shift.
Reacting during a chat with Shipping Position Daily last week, a downstream operator, Comrade Onward Onwundiwe noted that construction of more trailer parks for trucks and petroleum tankers would go a long way to ameliorate traffic gridlock in the Apapa axis.
He however noted that “it is a political statement, they (Government) are just saying it, but they would never implement it, it is a political dangling of mouth, but if they can do so, it would help us more. Everything these days is being done just on the pages of the newspapers, they are never serious”
He lamented that the truck park which was constructed by the Lagos State Government at Orile in Lagos has become congested and can no longer meet the demand of the petroleum tank farms which are scattered around Apapa.
“The trailer park constructed at Orile, Lagos is inadequate, we thought they would extend it to Badiya area, but they just stopped somewhere and currently the park cannot contain much trucks, if you decide to take all the trucks on wharf road to that park, it would not contain them, so many people from east, north, west, and Seme borders are coming there to park”
“The number of tank farms constructed in Apapa is too much compared to the availability of truck holding bays”
Onwudiwe who is also Secretary of the Techno Oil Unit of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) unit of National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) noted that it is only when there is enough holding bays that the government can apply sanctions on any truck driver who park on the port access road or on the expressway.
In the Tweeter message, monitored by our correspondent last week, the government said that “The Federal Ministry of Power Works and Housing and the Nigerian Ports Authority will ensure that empty containers within Apapa area to be relocated to holding bays, shipping companies no longer to be allowed to operate holding bays within Apapa Port area, tanks farms will no longer be permitted within the Apapa area”
Both bodies were also mandated by the Federal Government to establish a task force to manage the flow of traffic within Apapa and Tin Can Island and environs.
Dangote Group is also to carry out palliative works and reconstruction of some major sections of Apapa road and will be completed around June/July 2018 as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Besides, Honeywell Group would construct a trailer park, while BUA Group would carry out construction works on Tin Can road. A blueprint of the plan also revealed that the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) would ensure that empty containers within Apapa area would be relocated to holding bays while shipping companies would no longer be allowed to operate holding bays within the Apapa Port area.
The ministry and NPA would ensure the licensing of access to trailer parks and port locations by NPA to commence, while expressions of interest (EoI) from private sector would be placed for the operation of trailer parks and holding bays in the Tin Can Island area.