By Raji Rasak
Gridlock has returned to Apapa/Wharf Roads in Lagos due to loading by petroleum tanker drivers at private depots in the area.
A News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) correspondent observed that the gridlock, on Thursday, forced some motorists plying the route to abandon their cars and walk to their destinations.
One of the motorists, Mr Tunde Adigun, told NAN that the traffic caused by petroleum tankers and articulated vehicles had been terrible since the beginning of the week.
“Since Tuesday, the traffic jam has been terrible, and sometimes it is practically a standstill.
“The last time we saw traffic like this was in July. This week, when the tankers reappeared on this road, it has resurfaced, and till now it has not relented,’’ Adigun said.
He appealed to the state government to relocate tank farms from Apapa, pleading that petroleum tankers should be loaded at NNPC depots instead of the private depots.
The depots on Apapa/Wharf roads include MRS Oil and Gas, Nipco Oil and Gas, Ateo Oil Ltd., Techno Oil and Gas, Mobil Oil and Gas and Folawiyo Oil and Gas.
Some others are Oando Oil and Gas, and Conoil Oil and Gas.
Depots on Coconut/Apapa Road axis include Capital Oil and Gas, Sahara Oil and Gas, Integrated Oil and Gas, Eternal Oil and Gas, and Total Oil and Gas.
Some others are Acorn Oil and Gas, Obat Oil Petroleum, Aquitaine Oil Ltd., and Spog Oil Nig. Ltd.
When contacted, Alhaji Tokunbo Korodo, the South-West Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) said the gridlock was caused by petroleum tankers loading in the area.
Korodo said that loading was low at the NNPC depots and the tanker drivers were not getting adequate petroleum products, so they returned to their base in Apapa and Coconut Road.
According to the chairman, NNPC depots in the South-West are located at Ejigbo, Mosinmi and Ibadan, but they only operate skeletal loading.
“Recently, when NNPC commenced loading of products at its Ejigbo and Ibadan depots, most of the tankers relocated to the place to load.
“During this period, there was no gridlock of petroleum tankers along Ijora/Apapa/Wharf Road; the only tankers plying there were those of major oil marketers located in the area.
“Only articulated vehicles going to Wharf were causing traffic, but now that loading is low and some of them are not getting the products as expected, they have returned to their base,’’ he said.
The NUPENG chairman said that since they knew that products were readily available there, they did not care how long they had to wait to load, so long as they got the products.
Korodo said the solution to the problem was to ensure there was massive loading of products at the NNPC depots nearby, which would keep many away from Apapa.