By Ediri Ejoh & Anozie Egole
LAGOS—After about a month of relief from the traffic gridlock on Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, petrol tankers, are back in full forc e, as motorists and other road users trapped in the gridlock yesterday, spent several hours in anguish.
The gridlock, which extended from Sun Rise to the Cele-Ijesha axis, forcing many commuters to trek long distances, Vanguard gathered, was caused by the large number of tanker drivers who stormed the private tank farms in Kirikiri Town, in search of petroleum products.
When Vanguard visited Kirikiri Town, which houses the five tank farms operated by Techno Oil, Index Petrolube Africa, Swift Oil, Fatgbems Oil and Bovas Oil, tanker drivers were seen leaving the tank farms in droves, but they got trapped in front of the Nigerian Maritime Resource Development Centre, NMRDC, Kirikiri.
The situation was even more worrisome as tank farms at Kirikiri were reported to have little or no product to dispense.
Road users lament
For road users who ply the ever busy Apapa -Oshodi Expressway, many that spoke to Vanguard said they passed through hell to get to their destinations.
Narrating his experience, a road user, Ahmed Yusuf, who said he had been in the traffic for over three hours, lamented that the Apapa situation had become unbearable, lamenting that the inter-section point along Otto wharf had remained a difficult spot because of gridlock.
He said: “This traffic is all the way from Second rainbow. I had to find my way to Agboju to make the journey easy. On getting there, I realised that Agboju was also blocked. Now, I have been in this traffic for the past two hours. This journey should not take more than one hour. The Apapa traffic right now is beyond anybody’s imagination. It is only the Federal Government that can salvage the situation. It is understandable that Lagos State government has done its best.
“It is a complicated situation because even if you ask that the tank farms be moved, what about the ports? As a matter of fact, only the Federal Government can decide what should happen on this road.”
Another motorist, who simply identified herself as John Okafor, said the pain people went through just to travel a short distance was unimaginable.
He said: “It is incredible what people pass through here. I have spent more than two hours just to move from Mile 2 to the customs outpost in Otto Wharf and I am going to Apapa later. It was quite bad on Tuesday, but for the in-patience of other drivers yesterday’s situation became complicated.”
When Vanguard visited Mile2 to speak with a staff of the Lagos State traffic Management Agency, LASTMA, on the cause of the gridlock, the officer who pleaded anonymity, said: “The traffic started from Kirikiri, and as I speak to you now, there is nothing breeding the traffic. We have even pleaded with some members of the military to help control the traffic from Kirikiri end, who later returned without solution. For me, I don’t know why the drivers have decided to cause this havoc on the road”.
“The problem is often caused by security agencies who receive huge amount of money ranging from N10, 000, from tankers who wish to hurriedly get the product. When this is done, they end up distorting the flow of traffic at Apapa, by parking unscrupulously on the roads. For some of us who are in the service lane, we cannot afford to pay such exorbitant money that is why we are waiting for our turn before we go to get the product. And I am very hopeful that we will soon get the product.”