Members of the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Resources Downstream led by its Chairman, Hon. Joseph Akinlaja on Wednesday visited the Federal Ministry of Works to get update on how the ministry will find permanent solution to the perennial gridlock at the Apapa axis of Lagos State.
The official visit was informed by House of Representatives resolution two weeks ago (September 27, 2017) which mandated the Committee to liaise with 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.
The parliamentarians were warmly received by the Ministry of Works and Housing Permanent Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Bukar. Dr. Bukar represented the Honourable Minister, Mr Babatunde Fashola who was said to be attending weekly Federal Executive Council meeting at the Presidential villa.
Others in attendance in the Ministry’s team during the meeting were Engr. S.S. Jijingi – Director Highways Bridges and Design; Engr. O. O. Oguntominiyi – Director Highways Construction and Rehabilitation; Engr. A. O. Sogbesan – Director Highways South East Zone; Engr. C. O. Okonmah – Director Highways South South Zone; Engr. E. A. Adeoye – Director Highways South West and Engr. T. M. Ibi – Deputy Director Highways Planning and Development.
Hon Akinlaja while speaking on the essence of the meeting noted that unavailability of parking space in and around Apapa, where majority of private tank farms and sea ports were located had resulted to gridlock on Lagos roads particularly on the Apapa-Oshodi expressway.
Akinlaja said for quicker solution, the ministry can look inwards by expanding and rehabilitating Orile-Iganmu Truck Park or engage a concessionaire through Public Private Partnership so as to offer timely respite to tanker/truck drivers plus other road users to halt further socio-economic loss in the state.
In his words, ‘‘I am happy that the Honorable Minister of Works was Governor of Lagos State for 8 consecutive years, he has better understanding of traffic menace in any parts of Lagos, so Apapa gridlock can’t be an exception in this instance.
”The ministry can divert truck drivers to Orile-Iganmu Parking Space and keep them off the main road. The huge space can comfortably accommodate 3,000 trucks outside the main road. If the space is expanded and well rehabilitated by the ministry it will significantly help in alleviating the sufferings of the people at a time like this. The ministry in its wisdom can use PPP initiative to drive this process and it would yield positive results in good time.
‘‘The deplorable state of the road has impacted negatively on businesses, activities and lives of people within that locality, the state of the road has also crippled economic activities as people spend whole day in traffic losing precious work hours. Apapa is vital to Nigeria’s economy, I see it as the national economy’s artery and must be given due attention before the situation deteriorates further. Meanwhile we should not see Truck drivers as our enemies, they are not exempted in this suffering, and without them it would be difficult to distribute fuel otherwise the country will run into another crises which no one prays for.’’Akinlaja stated.
On the progress made so far by the Works ministry, Engineer Ibi Terna a deputy director Highways Planning and Development at the Ministry said, a Trailer Park at Liverpool corridor in Apapa is already in advance stage, according to him it has the capacity to conveniently assemble at least a thousand trucks.
He informed the parliamentarians that the ministry is yet to open the park for use at the moment because it wanted to ensure there is adequate provision for water, electricity and other facilities for sanitation before the beneficiaries are brought in.
Engineer Ibi further disclosed that ministry is working on environmental impact of the Liverpool Trailer Park, particularly the shore line so that the creek will not eat in to the parking lot meant for the trucks. He assured that the ministry will engage its consultant to look into the Orile-Iganmu Truck Park as suggested by the Committee Chairman, Hon. Joseph Akinlaja.
He however condemned over concentration on Lagos ports by importers, saying it is posing unnecessary migration into the Apapa area and resulting to overwhelming pressure on the infrastructure facilities, he urged relevant stakeholders to use other ports in Warri and Onne in Port Harcourt.
Although a member, Hon Mike Omogbehin representing Okitipupa/Irele Federal constituency faulted the advice made by the ministry, arguing that advising importers to use alternative ports instead of Lagos in order to reduce pressure on Lagos ports is unnecessary.
He blamed the problem primarily on failure of facility management; he explained that there is storage challenge for stakeholders to keep their products/wares in other ports. In his view only Lagos state has capacity in larger quantity to address the concerns of importers and other stakeholders in freight and oil and gas business.