By Ebele Orakpo
These tanker drivers are becoming principalities and powers along Apapa-Oshodi Expressway oo. They have continued to make life hell on earth for road users on that route,” said Ify, a commuter in the Apapa-bound commuter bus. “Hmm, my sister, no be small matter. My heartbeat increases each time I think of plying this route,” said Jide.
“But did you notice that during the March 28 and April 11 elections, the roads were completely free of the tankers? It was like magic. Where did they all go to? Were they all loaded within 24 hours and went to their various destinations?” asked Ade.
“No, they couldn’t have loaded all those trucks within 24 hours. I think the drivers moved them off the roads to a parking lot to avoid their being vandalized,” said Edith.
Retorted Ify: “Oh, so they have a parking lot that could take all those trucks and yet they prefer to be punishing road users by parking on the roads.”
“Of course! And nothing will happen because the owners are the untouchables, the cabals, the Ogas at the top who would frustrate any attempt to find alternative ways to transport petroleum products such as through pipes or railway, or even making our refineries work,” replied Jide. Continuing, he said: “Why do you think that the authorities have not been able to solve the problem?”
“I see. You may be right, otherwise what stops the Armed Forces – Police, Army and Navy from dealing with the recalcitrant tanker drivers once and for all?” asked Edith.
“As for making our refineries work, Nigeria is a very complex country, the more you look, the less you see. These same untouchables, the ones who have pocketed Nigeria are the owners of the tank farms and the tankers; they also own refineries abroad from where petroleum products are imported; so they will not hesitate to frustrate any attempt to revamp our refineries and stop importation of petroleum products or to use the rails or pipelines to transport petroleum products instead of tankers. They will also continue to frustrate any attempt to revamp the power sector because of their generator business.”
“So sad! All these for selfish reasons. God please help us,” prayed Ify.
“The worst part is that the activities of these tanker drivers and their tankers affect us in more ways than one. Number one, they affect people’s health physically and emotionally. Someone said his heart beats faster each time he thinks of hitting this road. Then the gridlock is killing, staying in one place for hours on end and getting exhausted before you get to the work place. Again, armed robbery attacks have increased on the route, especially in the evenings,” said Ade.
“Women are especially affected. You leave home looking refreshingly beautiful and then you enter the traffic. By the time you get to your office, you would be looking like a left-over vegetable, wilted, with all the make-up gone,” said Edith.
“What about the roads and bridges? They are not meant to bear such load. In fact, every single day I go to work and get home safely, I thank God for that day. One can only imagine the level of carnage if a laden tanker catches fire or some terrorists decide to bomb the place or even the bridge collapses,” said Jide. “Bros, no just imagine such. God forbid!” replied Ade.
Said Ify: “Have you noticed the stench on the road? The tanker drivers and others caught in traffic have turned the road to their toilet, bathroom and kitchen all rolled into one. I feel like throwing up each time I pass there.”
“Who gives the go-ahead to site tank farms in residential areas? Lagos govt should have a rethink oo,” pleaded Jide. “We hope the incoming government will tackle the problem head-on; deal with the cabal and make life worth living for the people. A few people cannot continue to hold the rest of us by the jugular for selfish reasons,” said Edith.