We’ll comply with directive — NUPENG; We lose N2bn monthly — Dangote
By Evelyn Usman
lagos—TO address the perennial gridlock along the Oshodi/Apapa expressway and other roads linking Lagos ports and farm tanks, truck drivers under the umbrella of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG and other bodies, were yesterday, given a 48-hour ultimatum to move their trucks from bridges in the state.
Rising from a stakeholders meeting organised by the Flag Officer Commanding, FOC Western Naval Command of the Nigerian Navy, Rear Admiral Sylvester Abbah, to consider the possible solutions to the traffic situation caused by truck drivers, the directive was handed down as first step towards addressing the issue.
Convener of the meeting, Abbah, who wondered why truck drivers were not making use of designated holding bays across the state, averred that except urgent steps were taken to discontinue the trend, its consequences would be catastrophic for the state and entire nation.
He said: “ These bridges were constructed as far back as 1973, 1974 and 1975 and are supposed to be carrying weight that are on moving vehicles. But if you go out now, some of those articulated vehicles have been there for the past three weeks with some of them carrying heavy loads.
Last Sunday, when we were coming from Lagos Island towards this base, we saw over 15 trucks loaded with rods on top of the bridge. What do you think will happen to those bridges: they will weaken the structure and at the end if any of those bridges should collapse, it will be an additional problem in Lagos.
“So, we are giving 48 hours ultimatum to NUPENG to leave all the bridges. They should stay at their bays until it is their turn to come to the ports.”
On its part, the Lagos State Government attributed the gridlock to the Federal Governnment, informing that the Apapa ports do not belong to Lagos State.
Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Taiwo Olufemi who threw his weight behind the evacuation of trucks from Lagos bridges, expressed fears over the possibility of the bridges passing an integrity test.
He revealed that the Apapa port was built to carry 30 Metric tonnes of goods but that at the moment it was operating at over 80 million metric tones , a figure he said was the highest record in the world.
Traffic manager of the Nigeria Ports Authority, Mr Oginni Victor, informed of moves to initiate a CALL UP system, where only the number of trucks instructed by companies, would be released from holding bays, to the ports. He stated that management of the NPA had directed all empty containers to remain at the holding bays provided by the NPA, adding that Okokomaiko axis was not part of the axis designated for trucks.
Dangote loses N2bn monthly
Representative of Sugar , Salt and Flour unit of Dangote Group, Mohammed Rabiu disclosed that the company was losing at least N2 billion in its sugar factory, owing to gridlock along the Apapa axis. He informed that there were plans to begin to transport goods through the sea.
Rabiu disclosed that 90 percent of containers parked along the road were empty and suggested that a system to keep trucks which do not have business to be on the roads off the road should be introduced. Reacting to an earlier allegation that Dangote trucks were also guilty of parking on the road without having any business at the port, Rabiu explained those were trapped on their way.
A representative of the Apapa Local Government chairman, Mr Benjamin, who attributed the cause of the traffic to bad road, lamented that the situation had taken a negative toll on the night life of Apapa residents in particular and Nigerians in general.
He said “ For every truck that goes out , demurrage is paid if it did not come before the stipulated time. With the present situation, truck which used to convey goods from Lagos to Kano or Kaduna state for N200,000 to N350,000 now collects over N1 million.”
On his part, representative of NUPENG, Adekunle Adelaja, who expressed hope that the meeting would not turn out like others which did not yield the needed result, blamed the cause of the gridlock on failure of the federal government to build refineries. He assured that members would comply with the directives to vacate the bridges.
also blamed the concession of holding bays by the NPA for the cause , even as he lamented over alleged brutality on his members by security operatives.