By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Lagos—Following persistent traffic gridlock in Apapa area which has spilled over into some parts of the state, the Lagos State Government, yesterday, issued a 48-hour ultimatum to tanker drivers parked within 300 meters of fuel depots in the state to relocate to safe parking lots pending the availability of petroleum products
Commissioner for Transportation, Mr. Kayode Opeifa gave the ultimatum while reading the communiqué arrived at after a meeting between the Lagos State government, National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, Petroleum Tankers Drivers, PTD, National Association of Road Transport owners, NARTO and other stakeholders.
The stakeholders’ meeting agreed to use persuasive enforcement to free roads and bridges currently occupied by petrol tankers and other trucks in an anticipated relief to the people.
Opeifa said the meeting had agreed that 48 hours should be given to tanker drivers queuing between 200 and 300 meters to the fuel depots to vacate pending availability of the commodity.
He said information available from the marketers revealed that there was no fuel in the depots to be lifted.
He said the situation had been further compounded as more tankers from all over the states converge on the areas to lift fuel.
The commissioner also said no tanker should be seen from the Eko Bridge to Liverpool, Coconut on Apapa Expressway to Mile 2, adding that before tomorrow, the tanker owners must make one lane available for other motorists pending the expiration of the ultimatum.
Opeifa, said the enforcement would be carried out by various unions in the axis.
The enforcement team will include: the state government, the police, Lagos State Transport Management Authority, LASTMA, Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, Vehicle Inspection Service, VIS, officials among others.
Meantime, other articulated truck drivers were directed to relocate immediately or be impounded.
‘’Any tanker that did not comply will be impounded, fined and would not be released until such fines had been paid,” he said.
The commissioner decried the untold hardship residents of Apapa were subjected to on daily basis as a result of the blockage of the expressway by tankers.
He appealed to NUPENG, PTD and NARTO to ensure that the agreement reached was not breached, saying that by Friday afternoon, government would begin enforcement.
He also noted that persuasion would be used rather than towing of the tankers.
Opeifa added that the marketers and major operators in the area had agreed to come out with a programming and ticketing method that would allow only tankers meant to lift fuel at a particular point in time within the axis.
He said with this development, traffic gridlock in Apapa, Ijora and neighbouring areas is expected to abate by Sunday while appealing to residents to exercise patience and warned that government was ready to take the agreement seriously.
However, major marketers under aegis of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) insisted the Federal Government still owed them a balance of N200 billion from oil subsidy.