IF you passed the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway in the last two weeks, you would recognise it. The tankers were gone, the beauty of the repaired road was visible and a trip to Apapa and parts thereof, did not take eternity. Though such normalcy should be expected on a road that its importance included being part of the trans-African highway and the link to West Africa’s busiest ports, it was absurd. The tankers are back with a vengeance that seems meant to cover their two-week absence.
For over seven years, Nigerians have lived with the agony of using a road that connects the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway to the rest of the country. It also links ECOWAS through Badagry and through its spurs at Oshodi connects ECOWAS again from parts of Ogun State. Simply put, it is an important road. Its importance does not depend on how often we say it.
Ministers have visited and made policy pronouncements about the road. Its obvious dilapidation remains. Debates about the importance of the road diminish the foresight of Nigerian leaders who built it more than 40 years ago and others who tried to build new extensions to it through Badagry.
None of the nuisance on our road matches what trailers and oil tankers do on the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway. They regard it as theirs. It was not always that way. Trailers were the usual fare on the road as they made their way to the seaports. Later on, oil tankers joined them, and took over the road. These tankers represent in graphic terms the chaos called Nigeria, and some consequences of the collapse of its pipelines and transportation system, especially death of the rails. Nothing can forgive the nuisance the tankers have become. They have appropriated the road, live by their own rules and take offence if they are corrected.
What can explain the taking over of the entire expressway in a manner that underlines the immunity they have created for themselves? Why do our governments make different laws for different people? The rapidity with which tankers are back to the road and the impunity their action depicts are responsible for the monstrosities they dump on the expressway and its adjoining bridges. Where were the tankers parked during the elections?
None of them was left on the road during the elections. Why should they be permitted to return? Important, as the service the tankers provide is, it is time governments made rails the major means of distributing petroleum products. More urgently, the Lagos State Government owes its residents a duty by clearing the tankers from the road. They should return to where they were parked during the elections – and remain there.