By Wale Oni
The Association of Maritime Truck Owners AMATO has said that the directive of the federal government that truck drivers must vacate Apapa roads within seven days is unrealistic and unimplementable.
Mr Godwin Eke, Federal Controller of Works in Lagos had earlier in the week told a gathering of port stakeholders and representatives of telecommunication companies that they should remove their trucks from Apapa ports access roads while the service providers must immediately relocate their underground cables and utilities obstructing the right of way to pave way for the commencement of construction of the Apapa wharf road by AG Dangote Construction company Limited.
“Leave the roads so that this contractor, AG Dangote Construction Company can begin excavation on site” Eke told his august guests in his Lagos office adding that it would not be pleasant to persons concerned if the works started before they began relocating their utilities.
AMATO however holds a different view from the federal government. According to its Chairman Chief Remi Ogungbemi, it is almost impossible and will be counterproductive to the ports industry and the national economy if the government insisted that the trucks quit the port access roads in seven days without a contingency arrangement, a space provided for them to relocate.
He said his association had identified a big space that could accommodate about one thousand five hundred trucks at Ijora and made several entreaties to government and NPA to assist with funds to rent the space but got no positive response.
“We have been telling them for five years that a space be secured for us but without success. I told the NPA boss and other government officials just last week at Dangote port that if they chase us out of the roads where do they want us to go? But they threatened to tow our vehicles away and I asked them to where are you towing the trucks, which space large enough that you cannot give us to use?d The directive will only work if they close down the ports because if we are displaced and can’t work, will the ports work?” asked Ogungbemi
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, on Saturday handed over the site to AG Dangote Construction Company Ltd. for reconstruction. The site was handed over after the minister signed a N4.34 billion Memorandum of Understanding with stakeholders who were to fund the project. The project is to be funded by AG Dangote Construction Company Ltd, an arm of the Dangote Group, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and Flour Mills of Nigeria.