By Ifeyinwa Obi
The Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) has said that the relocation of tank farms from the Apapa Port roads remained the permanent solution to the persistent gridlock in the area.
The Lagos Sector Commander of the commission, Mr Chidi Nkwonta, said that the measures being taken at the moment to end the congestion were temporary.
Nkwonta said that the increase in the number of tankers and trucks, the dilapidated condition of the roads, and the negligence of the stakeholders in the oil and gas industry made it necessary for the tank farms to be relocated.
He said: “We expect the tank farms to be moved from Apapa; they cannot be on the port roads in Apapa; the siting of the tank farms is inappropriate. It is in the heart of the town and it is unsafe, it is causing congestion. As such, it is endangering the entire environment.
So, the tank farms must move at the long run, while the roads must be fixed. You cannot control the traffic on those roads when the roads are so bad. The number of vehicles on the roads is large and there is no parking space for the trucks. Most of those trucks enter the potholes and they get stuck; some of the trucks lack maintenance; and coupled with the existence of the potholes it is difficult to move them.”
According to the sector commander, lack of functional loading bays, dishonesty among stakeholders in coordinating the movement of the tankers in and out of the farms made drivers to resort to queuing on the access roads.
He said they queued to avoid being pushed to the back by other loaders of products.
Nkwonta alleged that the company currently rehabilitating the roads had worsened the situation by blocking parts of the roads while working in the daytime.
He advised that the construction work could be done at night.
He urged the construction company to fill all the potholes on the roads, as a temporary measure, to ease the “nightmare” for the people. The sector commander urged the government to designate a route for tankers and trucks. Nkwonta advised the government to provide dedicated parks for the tankers and introduce the use of tallies in order to coordinate the movement of such tankers in batches.
He urged the unions to put their loading bays in good shape and to ensure that all the drivers adhered strictly to the laws guiding their operations.
The FRSC boss said that the commission had drafted no fewer than 300 officers and two commands to control traffic in the area in a bid to solve the problem.
Meanwhile, Lagos State Government has disagreed with the Federal Government over the construction of only the failed portion of the Oshodi Apapa express road saying total reconstruction of the entire stretch of the expressway is the permanent solution to the perennial gridlock on the road.
Speaking in Lagos yesterday, the Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation, Kayode Opeifa, said the temporary palliatives of the Federal Government would not solve the problem on the busiest roads.
Opeifa pointed out that the root cause of the chaos on the road, especially around the Coconut bus-stop and the Apapa ports, was that several portions of the road had failed.
The Commissioner said the situation led to frequent accidents involving tankers and this had resulted in the total blockage of the road in the past.
“The problem affecting the Apapa end is that most portions of the road are bad, and that explains why tankers and trucks fall on that road, resulting in the traffic mess we always experienced there. Until the road is reconstructed, the problem on the Apapa axis will be very difficult to solve permanently,” he said.
Opeifa said the Federal and Lagos State Governments had a meeting in 2012 where the former promised to reconstruct the entire road, so as to end the sufferings of motorists plying the route.
He, however, said that the Lagos state government was still expecting the Federal Government to fulfil the promise it made in 2012 to reconstruct the road.
“What they are doing now is palliative work and that will not solve the problem.
“You see, the blight spots are Coconut, Wharf and Creek sections of the road, but the ongoing palliative work is not extended to those areas.
“We have been consistently implementing our own part of the agreement we had with them, some of which was to manage the traffic and build inner city roads,” he said.
He said the state government was constructing no fewer than eight inner city roads and deploying traffic administrators there, to ensure sanity.