19th March, 2012
Tanker drivers who daily come into Lagos State, southwest Nigeria, to lift petroleum products seem to be testing the powers of the state government as P.M.NEWS investigation reveals that they have again continued to park their vehicles recklessly on major roads, residential areas and even atop bridges in some parts of the state.
As a result of this attitude of the tanker drivers, residents of some of the affected areas of the state like Apapa are groaning under harsh traffic conditions and are calling on the authorities to come to their aid.
Some of them lamented that they constantly live in fear since the tankers carry highly inflammable products, just as they accused the government and the tanker drivers of insensitivity to their plight, despite several complaints.
The state government had, a few weeks ago, ordered that tanker drivers who park their vehicles in unauthorised places, including bridges, would begin to have them impounded.
This followed a complaint by residents of Apapa area of the state about how the drivers have constantly operated as if they were above the law, and the fear that the bridge around the tank farms may soon collapse if nothing urgent is done.
It was learnt that with the threat by the government, the tanker drivers immediately vacated the areas being complained about.
However, few days later, they resurfaced and have since carried on without concern for residents and even people that work in the area.
Some of them who spoke with P.M.NEWS narrated that several times, they are forced to abandon their vehicles and trek long distances to their various places of business due to the traffic congestion in the area.
Ireti Ahmed, who said she works on Tin Can Island, a short distance from Apapa, explained that like other Nigerians that live very far from their places of work, she ensures she leaves home early enough for work, “else, I would have to answer a query. This is not because of the distance from my house to my place of work, but the gridlock occasioned by reckless parking of tankers.”
According to another resident of the area who gave his name as Victor Oladimeji, “sometimes the traffic situation gets out of hand to the extent that people begin to abandon their vehicles and instead prefer to trek.
“You would see old people, pregnant ladies all trekking because it looks like nobody is ready to assist in putting an end to our sufferings.”
Ogbonna Udoh told P.M.NEWS that several times criminal activities take place at night around the roads and bridges where the tankers are parked.
He said: “Criminals sometimes use these tankers as their hide-outs, robbing and molesting innocent Nigerians.
“We have heard of occasions where women have been raped under some of these parked tankers and I’m not joking about this.
Confirming this, the lawmaker representing Apapa Constituency 1 at the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mufutau Egberongbe, said the situation had become an embarrassment to both the community and the government as the community has complained several times about what he called the nefarious activities of the tanker drivers.
He further confirmed that criminal activities are perpetrated by hoodlums who hide under the tankers “that are parked in chains and to form an abode for miscreants.
“Traders are known to have been raped under the tankers and so many other criminal activities go on under the heavy duty vehicles.
“Parking Tankers on any bridge is also hazardous and can cause collapse because bridges are not meant for static vehicles.”
Egberongbe, who also blamed the recklessness of the tanker drivers on the corrupt activities of officials of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) who, he said, often deliberately slow down movement of tankers and trailers in order to make the drivers or owners of the vehicles pay demurrage. About 3,000 tankers and trailers come into Apapa daily.
Speaking on the way out, Egberongbe said the NPA should be checked while the activities of Port concessionaires should be critically investigated.
The lawmaker who described the situation as socially and economically suicidal, warned that with the number of tank farms located in the area and the number of tankers recklessly taking over every available space in the area, any fire incident could consume the whole of Apapa.
“This is why I am crying out to various agencies, especially the Federal and State Governments that something has to be done in earnest to save our people in Apapa. He added that the Lagos State government had been working and needed to be complemented by the Federal Government.