Airport Road: Illegal Parking Of Tankers Flames Concern

A section of the park tanker drivers say is unsuitable PHOTO: PAUL ADUNWOKE

A section of the park tanker drivers say is unsuitable PHOTO: PAUL ADUNWOKE

THE illegal parking of petrol tankers along the Murtala Mohammed International Airport road in Lagos State has attracted the displeasure of some road users and residents.

The annoying vehicles are often parked from NAHCO Motor Park, and all the way to Toyota Bus Stop, along the Apapa/Oshodi Expressway, a situation that has had commercial bus operators, business owners, and others lamenting, especially at night. Some of the people, who spoke to The Guardian, also complained that the tankers, with headlamps on, drive against the traffic at night, causing logjams.

Last Wednesday, about 30 petrol tankers parked on the road leading to the airport. They included others waiting to move their vehicles into the tanker park at Toyota Bus Stop.

A motorist, Mrs. Oluwatosin Shadare, said the tankers blocked one of the lanes, forcing all other vehicles to use one lane, and causing a gridlock in the process. “The tankers are the main cause of the problem here. We spent three hours to break free from the jam; what should ordinarily have been a 15-minute drive. The road to an airport is supposed to be wide, about four lanes. Sadly, we have only two lanes,” said Shadare.

Equally worried about the development, Mr. Mathew Tunde, who lives in Ajao Estate, said: “These trailers are the major cause of the gridlock that has made the road impassable in recent time.”

According to one Mr. Victor Olalekan, who works at 7/8 Bus Stop in the area, “Vehicle owners are sometime blocked from driving into fuel stations on Airport Road for hours. The gridlock is a major problem here. Government should widen the road and force these trailers off the area. Tankers that move against the traffic to NAHCO should also be apprehended and their drivers prosecuted.”

The Secretary, Aviation Unit of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Comrade Iperepolu Alaba, however, said the big challenge the tanker drivers have is lack of a parking space. He noted that before the drivers moved to the new park, FAAN had promised to tar the place, but that till date, it has failed to fulfill its promise. According to him, the drivers have a hard time maneuvering because the park is swampy. And to keep their vehicles from falling over and spilling their content, they prefer to park along the side of the road.

Alaba said: “I cannot park my tanker loaded with fuel, which costs millions of naira, in a swampy place. Every day, we have to tow our tankers away from the swamp; we spend a lot of money to do this. We spent more than N3million to buy stones and gravels to fill the park, but self-help can only accomplish little; we need government’s intervention because we cannot afford to tar the park on our own.

“Before we relocated to the new park, FAAN ordered us to drive one way from the depot to the park. They promised to create good access road for us, but they have failed to keep their word. If we have to keep from going one way, that would mean having to drive, first, to Oshodi and then turning around. This would amount to a waste of time and resources.”

But responding to questions, General Manager, Corporate Communication, FAAN, Mr. Yakubu Dati, said: “The nature of the place, as I understand, is swampy, but if they had started using it, at the initial time, the swamp would have compressed on its own. They actually moved in, but along the line, they came back on the road again.

“They also know that it is not an isolated case because the Federal and Lagos State governments also have the same problem with tanker drivers in Apapa. So, I believe that it is holistic approach that needs to be taken by the management of NUPENG, so that there would be safety and security.

“When these things happen, they have safety and security implications. They (tanker drivers) also know that it is not negotiable because we are not talking only about the lives of members of the society but also their own lives as well.

“Just last week, a petrol tanker fell off the road, starting a fire, but men of the Fire Service Commission intervened immediately, averting what would have been a national disaster. All airport authorities must adhere to safety standards. When it comes to the issue of petrol, which is highly inflammable, everybody needs to be safety conscious.

“The demands of tanker drivers are so high. We cannot afford to meet their demands, as an organization. We do not have enough money to tar the entire park for them, especially when they are there to do their private businesses. We have a lot of projects at hand concerning aviation, because we are here for aviation businesses.

“It is a big problem that affects the larger society; imagine if something happens to one tanker, all other tankers would be affected. To tar the place would cost us a lot of money. We have made effort. NUPENG should also make its effort, so that we can meet at a point. They should also understand that it involves the safety of all Nigerians.

“I think the solution to the problem is that the Federal Government should create underground pipelines, connected directly to the airport, in order to avoid all these inconveniences.”

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