Stakeholders seek relocation of tank farms, others to end Apapa gridlock
They blamed the existence of tank farms, bad road network, ‘untrained petroleum tanker drivers’, among others, as factors responsible for the gridlock.
Though The Guardian observed a slight improvement in the traffic situation yesterday morning, commuters, however, urged the federal and Lagos State governments to find a lasting solution to the problem.
Managing Director of a prominent firm located within Apapa axis, who preferred to remain anonymous, in a chat with The Guardian yesterday, blamed the existence of tank farms in the area for the menace of gridlock.
He said: “The only way forward is to relocate the tank farms. Apart from the traffic challenges, what do you think will happen if there is an explosion within the vicinity of the tank farms. Over 10,000 innocent people may be consumed.
“The government should not wait for disaster to happen before doing the right thing. The tank farms attract thousands of trucks to Apapa on a regular basis. The only viable solution to the problem is to relocate the tank farms to another location”.
The Chairman, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Vicky Haastrup, described the gridlock being experienced in Apapa as a direct consequence of alleged system failure in the oil and gas industry logistics chain.
Haastrup, who is also the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of ENL Consortium – operators of Terminals C and D of the Lagos Port Complex, Apapa – said the only way to solve the gridlock is to immediately suspend the lifting of imported petroleum products from tank farms by road.
“There is an over-concentration of oil tank farms in Apapa, an area predominantly designed for port operations. There is now a situation where we have proliferation of oil tank farms without regards for the safety logistics implication. I issued a warning over five years ago, advising government to discontinue tank farm operations in Apapa, but nothing was done. The problem is now staring all of us in the face.
“Port operations have been brought to a virtual standstill as a result of this chaos created by tank farm and oil tankers and it does not look like anyone is doing anything drastic about it.
“We have a situation where over 10,000 tankers descend on Apapa daily and when you add this to the number of conventional trucks on routine maritime operations, it is not surprising that we have the kind of gridlock we are currently witnessing,” Hasstrup said.
She also lamented that there are about 60 tank farms operating in Apapa.
On the immediate solution to the problem, Haastrup said: “There must be immediate suspension of the evacuation of petroleum products from Apapa by road. The authorities must immediately activate the use of barges in petroleum products evacuation.
“Petroleum products meant for the northern part of the country should be moved to Lokoja and Baro ports by barges while the trucks collect them from there rather than coming to Apapa.
“Petroleum products meant for the South East and South South should be moved by barges to Onitsha, Warri, Port Harcourt and Calabar ports. The trucks then go to those places to lift fuel and distribute.
“This is the way to go and this will immediately reduce the number of tankers coming to Apapa to a manageable number. Ultimately and on the long run, the incoming government should get our refineries working to reduce the nation’s avoidable dependence on importation of petroleum products. The tank farms in Apapa must also be relocated to allow a breath of fresh air for port operation,” Haastrup said.
Meanwhile, the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Alhaji Sanusi Lamido, has ordered rehabilitation of roads linking Apapa and Tin Can Island ports.
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