BY EBELE ORAKPO
Kai, which kind hold-up be this? Our lives are being cut short instalmentally and we behave as if all is well,” commented Mike this Monday morning as the commuter bus passing through Boundary Road to Mile 2 stood at one point for over 30 minutes without moving an inch.
“This is junior hold-up. If you had passed this route last week, you would have realised that this is nothing compared to what we have been passing through for weeks now.
As at last week, some people were spending over six hours or more in traffic, especially on the Apapa-Oshodi expressway so we should just thank God for the government that gave tanker drivers ultimatum to leave the road or face dire consequences,” said Nike.
“It was a daily occurrence. People were leaving home as early as 4.30am to get to their places of work at least before 10am but sometimes, they don’t make it. It was horrible,” commented Julia.
“Really? Leaving home by 4.30am? That is very risky. What if they are attacked by robbers? Maybe 6.30 to 6.00am would have been more like it,” said Angela, to which Nike replied thus: “Yes, in a sane society. But I know some people who leave home by 7.00am and don’t get to work until 4.00pm; tell me what such a person will be able to accomplish at work?”
“Not only were we forced to sit in the vehicle for hours but were also forced to inhale the stench. The whole place was a mess. The tanker drivers actually turned the Mile-2/ Wharf end of the express road to their rest room. You could smell and see faeces and urine all over the place,” said Angela.
“Will you really blame them? There are no public toilets around, so they have no choice than to drop both the solid and the liquid substances on the newly paved road,” said Julia.
The vehicles began to move again and then a big truck coming in the opposite direction blocked the flow.
“Are you insane? How can you park here, blocking others?” asked Mike looking angrily at the truck driver who calmly replied thus: “Wetin you wan make I do? Na me say make them carry all the tank farms come put for Lagos? We no get choice o, we must come to lift products from here.”
“Kwarai da gaskiya mallam. That is the simple truth. The guy is very right. They need fuel and the only place to get it is Lagos; so to Lagos they must come and they will not leave until they are loaded. Some of them spend weeks before loading. This problem can be solved if our railway is functional or on the alternative, the products could be taken to the North via underground pipes,” said Ade.
“Pipes? So that you give vandals more opportunities to vandalise the pipes and steal petroleum products?” asked Tim.
“If only our refineries are working at full capacity, we won’t be facing this problem,” stated Mike.
“Only one refinery is functional in Nigeria and that is the one in Lagos,” said James tongue-in-cheek.
Replied Ade: “Lagos does not have refinery but tank farms.” “Exactly! That is the refinery I am referring to. The owners of the tank farms are untouchables in the society; so they can get away with putting us through hell everyday just so that they can make their money. I bet you, if it were a common man’s business causing this headache, he would have been crushed together with his business,” said James.
“Why can’t they relocate the tank farms? It’s not as if they don’t have enough funds to do that, it’s just impunity,” said Tim.
“They can relocate to Ikorodu, Ondo, Badagry and other places in other parts of the country to decongest Lagos. Let Lagos contend with containers alone,” added Tim. “Even that can be decentralized. After all we have seaports in other parts of the country,” said Mike.