Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN (middle), Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Engr. Taofeek Tijani (2nd right), Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, Aliyu Mohammed Manko (2nd left), Director of State Security Services, Mr. Ben Achu Olaiyi (left) and the Commander 9 Brigade, Cantonment, Ikeja, Brigadier-General A. S. Maikoba (right) during Governor Fashola’s meeting with Tank Farm owners on the need for vigilance and support for government’s regeneration efforts in Apapa at the Lagos House, Ikeja, on Tuesday, July 1, 2014.
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, Tuesday, 1st July, 2014, met with operators of tank farms in Apapa and charged them to be more vigilant around their operational bases while also promptly reporting vehicles that cannot be accounted for in their areas of operation to the police and security agencies.
In a mind-rubbing session with them at the Lagos House, Alausa, Fashola urged the operators to ensure that no vehicle that cannot be accounted for is allowed to park in their premises or make use of their facilities so as not to compromise the security of the State.
He told them, “You must have to put down your foot about vehicles parking around your premises. We have tried but many of you have insisted; we have been called anti-poor and anti-business, but it is only those who are alive that will do business.
“So around your tank farms, around your offices and around your storage facilities, there should be no vehicles that are parked there that could not be accounted for. Once there is such a vehicle that you cannot account for, let us know, call the state Commissioner of Police or the state Director of SSS, this is the way to win this war; it is not going to happen by wishes or getting sensational or hysterical”, the Governor said.
The Governor who said he had met the various business operators at many levels, told the operators, “The game must change. We have met with hospitality facilities, we have met with health, we have met with the malls, the motor parks, we are taking every measure, we are not leaving anything to chance, every information that we get we check. But we need leaders in strategic places because we can’t run your businesses and we need you now to take responsibility in this area and leave the rest to us”.
To the operators doing business in Apapa, Fashola urged a reflection on the negative impact of their operations on other businesses and the environment generally. “You must spare a thought for those who do other businesses in Apapa. They are complaining to me about how tankers have taken over their businesses. And the people I see here are some of the most sophisticated people that our country has produced. I think we can do better”, he said.
“I think we can do business with some compassion and with some consideration. You know the irony is that we need the fuel but we don’t want to lose our homes and our lives in the process of getting the fuel. I suggest, may be some of you constituted yourselves into a team, go out on Saturdays, go out on Sundays to go and see what your operations are doing to some people; perhaps you would be as concerned as we are”, the Governor said.
Pointing out that property values are diminishing in the area as a result of the operation of tankers, the Governor said, “But you know what is going to happen? The demand is going to transfer to the other side of town. So we are all going to pay for it. If I cannot live in Apapa again, the next thing I will do is ask, where else can I live.
“It is either I move to GRA Ikeja, or GRA, Ikoyi or Victoria. So we will only come and put pressure on the rent in those places; that is what is going to happen. The people in Apapa are not going to evaporate, they are going to put pressure on those other parts of the city where you and I will live”, he said adding that the result would be increase in rent in those places.
“We can’t lose one side of the city simply because we are producing or distributing fuel inefficiently; we can’t.
“I have also spoken to tanker drivers over the issue especially the issue of hauling of fuel and the damage it does to the roads”.
Noting that the Federal Government may not be expected to do anything about the problem, Fashola said, “The question we will ask ourselves is how sustainable is hauling of fuel going to be. It is diminishing the lifespan of our roads and we are continuing and we are heading to a point where we will no longer be able to travel by road again if we don’t change quickly now.
“We built Funsho Williams Avenue, former Western Avenue, four years ago, I have gone back to maintain it twice. I am yet to know what part of the world that has happened; building a brand new road and coming to maintain it within 12 months. It is the tonnage that the roads is subjected to”.
According to him, “If you go along Alaka and Barracks you will see that all almost all the street lights have been knocked down mainly by tankers and trailers. We don’t come back to you to say you damaged public property come and repair it. But we should. Driving along Eko Bridge and Apongbon just see the disjoints that are going on; they are not accidents it is tonnage pressure.
“One day, it is going to collapse. But it is important to let know that you have a big role to play in the rapid deterioration of the access. Now the old rail line into the Apapa depot is still there; it requires rehabilitation here and there and I think if you people put your heads together and make arrangements to rehabilitate it, we can have those tankers back on rails and on the move if you decide that is what is going to happen, because ultimately they are hauling your goods”.
Noting that the fear of the tanker drivers over the new development could be that they would not have any more jobs, the Governor said the drivers could be tanker owners and blend into the business instead of driving on the roads adding, “If there is an accident, the people who may be affected would be reduced if it is rail transportation”.
“A fuel tanker burning in the middle of a city will cause more damage to life and properties than a fuel tanker on the rail line; so the damage will be reduced considerably. So think about it; it is your business”.
Noting that the operators were there because of local content, Fashola said, “Now the local oil companies have outstripped the Texacos, the Mobils and the Totals. But when they started this business about 50 years ago, they transported by rails. We forced them into the roads; but now this generation can do the right thing and go back to the rails.
“The facilities are all there. All we need is to rehabilitate the rails and begin to build our coaches and put them back on the tracks one after the other. I know that once we said it is going to be done, they will be done. Apapa is the first industrial estate in Nigeria”.
In attendance at the meeting were representatives all the major Tank Farm Operators and the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Aliyu Mohammed Manko; state Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Engineer Taofeek Tijani; state Director of State Security Service (SSS), Mr. Ben Olayi; and Commander 9 Brigade Cantonment, Ikeja, Brigadier A.S. Maikoba.