Due to the constant gridlock at the Oshodi-Apapa expressway, the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) last weekend issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Federal Government of Nigeria to evacuate all petrol tankers and other heavy duty vehicles along the access roads to the sea ports, or all ports operations nationwide will be shut.
Part of the Union’s petition reads; “We observe with dismay that petrol tankers and trailers have permanently taken over the access roads to our Sea Ports; Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports in particular. The resultant gridlock caused by the indiscriminate parking of the petrol tankers and trailers that daily load petrol from the tank farms along the access roads to the Sea Ports have made movement of people and goods in and out of our Sea Ports and work places within the Apapa Industrial/Commercial area impossible. The deep pot holes along the roads which are better described as gullies have now turned death traps and is another contributory factor to the unprecedented gridlock that daily occur on the roads.
“The utter neglect of the access roads has not only compromised the efficiency and service delivery of the Ports due to the huge loss of man-hour incurred daily on the roads, but has no doubt impacted negatively on the National Economy. We have repeatedly called on government to relocate the Tank Farms along the Tin Can and Apapa Ports access roads for both safety of lives, properties and economic reasons. However, in spite of the assurance given that the tank farms would be relocated; we are surprised that till date, nothing has been done”.
MWUN’s petition is one that the Federal Government has to timely and effectively treat, not just because of the threatened strike action, but because of the harm port gridlocks is causing the Nigerian economy. And relocating the tank farms, as necessary as it is, will not be enough to fix the problem of distributing fuel.
First and foremost, Nigeria has to do away with the system in which thousands of tankers gather at the ports to take and distribute fuel around the nation. Nigeria needs an effective distribution system for petroleum products and tankers are not it, except for relatively short distances.[eap_ad_2]
Thanks to tankers, going to and from the ports or commuting around that area is a nightmare not just for commuters but also businesses who are dependent on those access roads. The current location of the tank farms has been rightly blamed as a major factor for the huge traffic congestion, but only relocating it will simply mean relocating the hazards of the tankers to another area.
The rail system needs to be revived for the purpose of evacuating cargo from the Lagos ports. If we have a situation where petroleum products is conveyed on a dedicated rail to designated stops across the nation, then only a relatively few tankers would converge at these rail stops take these products and transport them to their final consumer who would only be a short distance away. This way the issue of tankers clogging cities or causing nuisance in roads is greatly reduced.
However, as easier as this system, if carried out, could make the distribution of petroleum products given our present terrible system, Nigeria cannot shy away from the urgent need to make the refineries functional as well as improve the reliability, safety and integrity of pipelines.
These are not easy do’s but they are imperative given the huge economic losses Nigeria incurs by importing petroleum products and the further losses in moving it around the nation with the current system.
Our current system is seriously stifling the private sector and the entire economy, first the charges by haulage vehicles keep increasing astronomically because of the long travel time as well as turnaround time, next is the high demurrage by terminal operators and shipping lines because of the slow pace of cargo evacuation from the ports, then the frequent accidents resulting from fallen containers in transit because of the state of the roads. Add this to the paralysis of other businesses along the axis due to the reduced patronage caused by the lack of smooth access to customers, and what we have is an economic catastrophe.
One must not also forget the adverse effect this has on Nigerian roads, that are already grossly inadequate, these very heavy tankers spend long hours on our expressways, bridges and flyovers putting them at risk.
Thus, it is not just the threat of a labour strike that should move the Federal Government to act but the very threat of this distribution bottlenecks derailing Nigeria’s budding economy. (VENTURES AFRICA)[eap_ad_3]