By Udeme Akpan, Levinus Nwabughiogu & Monsuru Olowoopejo
THE moves of the House of Representatives to clear fuel tankers from Apapa road, Lagos in order to pave way for the maintenance may take long to be accomplished as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said it was awaiting the House report on the subject.
The House order also seemed to have been misdirected as the Corporation added that it has no direct control over the major and independent marketers that have tank farms in Apapa, Lagos, adding that they were private companies.
Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, Group General Manager of the Corporation said in a telephone interview with Vanguard that:’’NNPC has not yet received any report from the House of Representatives.
‘’We need to get, study and understand the House of Representatives report on this issue before we can respond. We cannot do so at this time because we do not have the facts.
‘’However, it should be noted that the owners of the tank farms are private entities who do not report to NNPC. The NNPC have a business relationship with them but they do not report to us. It should also be noted that there are government agencies that grant approvals, permits and licences to enable them operate anywhere in the country. ”
Mr. Babatunde Fashola, Ministry of Power, Works and Housing could not be reached for comments yesterday.
But Engr. Godwin Eke, Federal Controller of Works, Lagos also disclosed in a telephone interview with Vanguard that he has not yet been officially informed of the development.
‘’I will not like to comment on this until I have read the House of Representatives report,” he said.
We just heard about it – LASG
In a like manner, the Lagos State Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mr Wasiu Anifowoshe, said: “I just came out of the weekly executive meeting. I have not heard of it. I believe by tomorrow, we would have studied the directive from the lawmakers and possible say one or two things about it.”
But another official who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the tank farms in Apapa axis of the state were not the cause of gridlocks experienced there.
The reaction came barely hours after House of Representatives’ directives to Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, to immediately commence the process of relocating tank farms away from Apapa.
Reacting over the lawmaker’s action, the official, disclosed to Vanguard that the reaction of the House of Representatives does not truly reflect the present situation within the port.
He noted that, though their directive was to assist, but the issue presently crippling commercial activities within the axis was the operation of Nigerian Port Authority, NPA and the Shippers Council.
Vanguard however gathered that the House was working to communicate its decisions to relevant stakeholders in order to get their support for the road rehabilitation.
The House of Representatives yesterday urged the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, to immediately commence the process of relocating tank farms domiciled in the Apapa axis of Lagos State.
The House also mandated its Committee on Petroleum Downstream to liaise with NNPC to ensure that only tankers with Authority to Load, ATL, were allowed to go into Apapa.
It also urged the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing and the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, to put pressure on the contractor handling the truck park at Tin Can Island to ensure timely completion of the site.
These were some resolutions the House made at plenary as a way of finding lasting solution to the perennial gridlock in the area.
The development was sequel to a motion by Hon. Ayodeji Joseph (Apapa Federal Constituency, APC) under Matter of Urgent Public Importance.
Moving the motion titled, “Urgent Need to Address the Resurgent Traffic Gridlock in Apapa” earlier, Hon. Joseph recalled that several interventions of the Lagos State government, among others, to free the zone of serpentine traffic jams had failed, and appealed to members to grant the prayers of his motion.
He said: “The House notes that the perennial traffic gridlock in Apapa has subsisted despite efforts of government to find a permanent solution to it.
“Also notes those economic and vehicular activities in the corridor which is a major gateway to the Nation’s foremost seaport has been adversely affected by the menace.
“Aware that in the first two weeks of September alone, over 2,000 trailers, trucks and oil tankers had massively flooded Ikorodu Road all through to Apapa in bid to get into the Port and tank farms to covey commodities to their various destinations.
“Also aware that in response to the recent blockage of all access roads to Apapa and the intractable traffic gridlock that resulted from it, the Lagos State Government ordered all trailers, trucks and oil tankers to stay off all the roads within the state.
“Further aware that Lagos State government has mobilized resources to ensure articulated vehicles stay away from Lagos until the traffic logjam is resolved while the representative of Apapa Constituency 1 in the State Assembly, Mrs. Mojisola Miranda has also raised concerns about the problem.
“Concerned that breakdown of operations at Apapa port is touted as the cause of the gridlock which extended from Apapa to Ojuelegba with its attendant dislocation of economic activities.
“Worried that if something urgent is not done, port activities will be in jeopardy and revenue to the nation’s coffers will dwindle astronomically.”
In their separate contributions, Hon James Faleke, Rita O Orji and JideJide Jimoh who are all lawmakers from Lagos, supported the motion.
When committed to voice vote by the presiding officer and Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, the motion got the support of the House.
Meanwhile, the House mandated its Committee on Ports, Harbours and Waterways to investigate the cause of the dislocation in port operations which is suspected to have led to the renewed gridlock and report to the House within three weeks.
Lagos Assembly expresses concern
A few days ago, the Lagos State House of Assembly had also called on the NNPC to relocate the tank farms in Apapa to a less congested area, saying that it is causing traffic logjam and endangering the lives of the residents.
A member representing Apapa constituency 1, Mrs. Mojisola Miranda, who raised the issue under matter of urgent public importance on during plenary, had said that the activities of the tanker drivers in Apapa are not only affecting traffic in the area, but that it has extended to other parts of the state.
She had urged the Assembly to invite the state’s acting Commissioner for Transport and the Managing Director of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) to brief the house on how they would handle the matter.