MMIA road Lagos turns into another Apapa as tanker drivers take over

nullFRANKLIN IHEJIRIKA in this article examines the gradual occupation of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, road, Lagos by tanker drivers both the ones that have no business at the airport and posited that if nothing is done to check the gradual relocation, the road will soon become another Apapa Express road where tanker drivers hold road users ransom.
If drastic measures are not taken by the management of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, road, Lagos will soon become another Apapa Express road where tanker drivers hold the road users ransom.
Today, the tanker drivers are gradually gaining grounds as more of them who could not cope with the pressures by the state government, law enforcement agencies and the agencies in charge of road traffic in Apapa Wharf have now taken the airport road as their new location.
Following the relocation of the tankers drivers that supply Aviation fuel from near the tool gate of the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company, NAHCO Aviance to their present location behind the Hajj camp car park which is a bigger place, most of the displaced tank drivers from Apapa have now relocated to the Murtala Murhammed Airport road, gradually blocking the road the same way they have made life a living hell for passengers going to Apapa.
Even at that, the safety implication of the gradual relocation of the tanker drivers to the Murtala Muhammed Airport road is unimaginable, as it is just like a time bomb waiting to explode.
One cannot forget the Associated Airline plane crash in Lagos which crashed close to the Joint User Hydrant near NAHCO in a hurry. If the crash had happened a little closer, the implication would have been unimaginable.
Today, tanker driver that have no business at the airport road are now finding solace on the two sides of the roads, gradually compounding the traffic situation on the road and the management of FAAN seems to be helpless on the matter.
From where the aviation tanker drivers were given as their park, they are gradually taking over, now parking their tankers on the sides of the road extending close to Mobil petrol station on one side and Conoil petrol station on the other side.
Apart from the aviation fuel tankers, tankers of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, also parked along the airport road.
A look at some of the tankers showed that some of them have broken down and were just parked there to occupy space.
FAAN had in August 2013 relocated the tanker drivers to a permanent site within the environment after years of causing havoc on the highways at the airport.
But, despite the relocation to a permanent site, the tanker drivers who hide under the guise of uplifting aviation fuel to airlines in the airport, line up their vehicles on the road and threatened to down tools whenever their action was challenged by the airport authorities.
The relocation of the tanker drivers in 2013 to the new space provided for them by FAAN was in a bid to sanitise the Airport and enhance security around it.
The move to earlier relocate the tanker drivers around the airport environment was sequel to the resolve of federal government to decongest airport road and to make the airport environment safer.
The former parking position of the tankers around the airport was an eyesore and constituted security worries for all the security agencies around the airport.

As part of measures to remedy the situation and check the rising numbers of tankers hiding under the guise of distributing aviation fuel at the airport, the Airline Operators of Nigeria, AON has consistently called on the federal government to revive the Aviation Turbine Fuel, ATF at the Warri refinery, including the pipeline –hydrant system of supplying aviation fuel to the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos.
The AON Chairman and managing director of JedAir, Captain Nogie Meggison has appealed to the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC to look into the possibility of reviving the pipelines, which obviously must have become rusty and corroded having been abandoned for over 18 years.
“We need NNPC to revive this pipeline so that airline can get cheaper and cleaner aviation fuel”, he said.
While calling on the federal government to intervene on the issue by ensuring that it revives the Warri refinery, Atlas Cove and Mosemi pipelines –hydrant system for supplying aviation fuel, Meggison maintained that the pipelines that supplied aviation fuel to the airport before it was shut down by the late General Sani Abacha led military regime in January 1996 were fully functional.
According to him,” before the pipelines were shut down in 1996, aircraft were using the aviation fuel hydrant at the Murtala Muhammed Airport and that not one truck supplied fuel to the airport from the port, as fuel was pumped through pipeline from Atlas Cove and Mosimi. One of the causes of high cost of aviation fuel is the cumbersome chain of distribution and supply it has to pass through before getting to airline operators.”
He regretted the dramatic process of loading at the Apapa port and the inefficient transportation of the product by road from the Apapa port to the Joint Users Hydrant Installation, JUHI at the airport.
Meggison said the Pumping of fuel using pipeline and hydrant is safer and cost effective compared to using tankers and fuel bowsers, adding that these days’ airports do not use tankers for fuel distribution.
To buttress his point ,the JedAir boss recalled that in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s Nigeria used hydrant both at the defunct Nigeria Airways Limited, NAL apron , the General Aviation Terminal, GAT, the international and Cargo ramp.
He said that it is sad that Nigeria allowed aviation fuel distribution in the country to deteriorate from digital to analog, just as he likened to Morse Code; a very primitive way of using trucks and fuel bowsers to fuel airplanes in 2014, when 30 years ago the country used underground hydrant from the port directly into the tanks of aircraft.

To also check the menace of tanker drivers and other big lorries in the state, the Lagos State Government has clarified the section of the Road Traffic Law 2012, which restricted trailers and articulated vehicles from plying the metropolis between 6 am and 9 pm.
Permanent Secretary of the State Ministry of Transport, Oluseyi Whenu said that while Section 2 of the Traffic Law ‎restricted movement of trailers and articulated vehicles, only petrol tankers and long vehicles used in conveying passengers were allowed to travel within the metropolis between the stipulated times.
He said that vehicles with more than one rear axle or six tyres were hereby restricted between 6 am and 9 pm, with the exemption of some vehicles in accordance with sections 2 and 38 of the Road Traffic Law 2012.
These exemptions are tour buses or passenger buses, fire service trucks, rescue and recovery trucks, patrol trucks, perishable farm products trucks, refuse collection trucks, cement mixer trucks, tractors and refrigerated trucks.
The clarification became necessary following the controversy generated due to the enforcement of the law, ‎after a fatal accident in the state.
Meanwhile, the management of FAAN had expressed concern over the indiscriminate parking of fuel tankers and other articulated vehicles on the access road to the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos in the past few months.
The general manager, Corporate Affairs, FAAN, Mr. Yakubu Dati has said the refusal of the tanker drivers to obey FAAN’s directive, in spite of several appeals was worrisome.
Dati while explaining that the Authority would meet to decide the next step to take in resolving the issue, stated that FAAN is not a law enforcement agency and had no power to forcefully remove the vehicles from the road.

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