- Efforts by the presidency to ease the traffic congestion in the Oshodi-Apapa area of Lagos and ensure the relocation of oil companies’ headquarters to the Niger Delta have proven abortive
- An oil firm that begged to remain unnamed said that it cannot relocate to the Niger Delta because operating from Lagos makes business easier and smoother
- Another oil company claimed that it is based in Lagos because security is more guaranteed in the state than elsewhere in the country
The orders by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo aimed at clearing the traffic congestion in the Apapa area of Lagos state in a bid to ensure the relocation of oil companies’ headquarters to the Niger Delta have continuously been flouted.
Most oil firms in Lagos maintain that there is no need to relocate to the region as they already have vibrant operations there and are only maintaining small head offices in other parts of Nigeria. Some others claim they have headquarters there and are, therefore, not affected by the mandate, The Guardian reports.
The spokesperson for Shell Nigeria, Bamidele Odugbesan, informed newsmen on Wednesday, August 22, that Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) had had its headquarters in the region (Port Harcourt), many years before the issuance of the order.
Odugbesan said that the SPDC is offshore and has catchment areas in Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and recently Imo and Abia states; thus, the location of its head office in the Niger Delta is necessary.
However, Odugbesan said the Shell Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCo), which is 120km offshore off the coast of Nigeria in the Gulf of Guinea, has its office in Lagos.
He said: “For SNEPCo, the host community is the whole of Nigeria and not limited to the Niger Delta. For instance, distance-wise, SNEPCo’s Bonga field is closer to Lagos than it is to Port Harcourt. We must categorically state that SNEPCo is not taking a drop of oil from the Niger Delta.
“SNEPCo will maintain its logistics base where its operations are. It is only when you are operating in the Niger Delta that the issue of relocating there can stand. For SNEPCo, our social investment programmes are done across the country.”
An unnamed source at an oil company with an office in the Niger Delta, said his firm maintains a Lagos office because it would be impossible to transact business elsewhere.
The source revealed: “In Lagos, we have the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS) and commercial banks.
"These are entities we liaise with everyday. We need to remain in Lagos to achieve a seamless operation. A large chuck of our workforce is in the Niger Delta. Thus, we pay more company and staff income tax to the authorities there, compared to Lagos where our workforce is slim.”
He also said: “What are the tangible things the government wants to achieve? We don’t see any significant thing that will accrue to the government as benefit if we move our head office to the Niger Delta. In fact, it will not change anything for the communities or the government.”
The source claimed that Lagos provides an easier link to the world than the Niger Delta and that basic security could not be guaranteed in the region.
“As we speak, the wives and children of most of our workers in the Niger Delta do not stay there. Who wants to stay there?” he asked.
In the same vein, fuel tankers and container trucks doing business at the Apapa port and surrounding depots have returned to access roads inwards Apapa, contravening the order, which forbade indiscriminate parking.
It was observed that the heavy-duty vehicles have in the last few days begun forming two lanes inwards Apapa port.
A long stretch of the haphazard parking was noticed on Wednesday, August 22, around Mile 2, Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, Festac and Ago Palace corridor.
In July 2018, Osinbajo made an unscheduled visit to Apapa and directed a joint task force of security operatives to clear the area of the gridlock within 72 hours. Many Lagos residents welcomed the order as the vehicles had forced a total traffic lock down.
The task force was drawn from the Nigeria Police Force, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Air Force and the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC). Others were: the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA).
Container truck drivers were represented, alongside the National Association of Road Transport Owners, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN).
Yekini Adeagbo, a resident of the Coconut area of Apapa, regretted that the directive and efforts of security operatives lasted only a few days. He said just after the joint task force departed, the tankers and trucks returned.
Adeagbo said: “Honestly, we thought the police people (task force) would stay longer to check the excesses of these drivers.The issue is much more serious than the State and Federal Governments are making.
“I am aware that they are building trailer parks and want to construct the bad roads but traffic rules and enforcement should be stricter and consistent. They must not just be a one-off thing.”
The task force was constituted to maintain sanity within a 30-day period. But in recent times none of the operatives has been working.
The plan to fix several portions of roads at a cost of N72.9 billion was recently approved by the Federal Executive Council. However, as at Wednesday, August 22, the roads were in disrepair.
Meanwhile, Legit.ng reported that truck and tanker drivers had returned to the Oshodi-Apapa expressway blocking the major road and making residents pass through hellish conditions as the gridlock resulting from this continues to spread to adjourning roads.
Legit.ng gathered that the road was overtaken by articulated vehicles making residents whose offices were located in the Apapa area suffer many hours on their way to work.
Traffic in Lagos: Only Nigerians Will Understand | Legit.ng TV