For the past two months, there has been a public outcry over the terrible situation of the road from Eleme junction to the Refinery in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
For millions of Nigerians plying the route on daily basis, in the course of private and public businesses, the condition of the road has not only become deplorable but impassable.
A journey across this axis of the road which ordinarily should take about 20 minutes, now takes about four hours under very frustrating conditions.
The National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), particularly the Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) branch of the union, has consistently appealed to the Federal Government to give urgent attention to the road. The body said, if permanent attention cannot be given to the road, at least, let temporary measures be provided to enable its members operate on the road in view of the peak of the rainy season.
Tanker drivers who ply the road daily while distributing petroleum products from Eleme Refinery to different parts of the country have lamented that the condition of the road has become a nightmare and a major frustration in their business operation.
Disappointed that their appeals have not been able to attract the Federal Government’s sympathy or attention to their plight, the body threatened to withdraw its members services to the nation.
The Rivers State chairman of PTD, Comrade Lucky Etuokwu, in his several media out busts had explained the pains, frustrations and heavy maintenance costs that petroleum tanker drivers have to bear due to the deplorable road condition.
According to him, there is need for government to fix the road before the peak of the rainy season because of the flood, occasioned by lack of drainage, covers the road, tanker drivers would find it difficult to meander through the bad spots and that this could lead to ship-off and eventual fall of trucks.
In an event of a fall, the petrol fire likely to follow could take lives of the drivers and other persons, as well as vehicles and structures close to it, adding that the petroleum products content of the truck which runs into millions would also go.
Etuokwu consistently called on the Federal Government as well as the Rivers State Government to fix the road to forestall the dire consequences, threatening that the body would have no option than to withdraw the services of its members, if government fails to do the needful.
Just as PTD is calling and wailing, the parent organization, NUPENG also aligned with it and added that if the appeals fail, it would also embark on a nationwide strike.
AS the voices of PTD, NUPENG and the public reached a crescendo, there came a ray of hope when the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, arrived the state (barely two weeks ago) on his official visit to Afam Power Plant in Oyigbo Local Government Area. Expectation was that the minister would take the advantage provided by his visit to make clear statement about Federal Government’s concern on the road. But such was not to be.
Again, by fortunate coincidence, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, an indigene of the state, flew into Port Harcourt on the occasion of his 52nd birthday celebration. Amaechi’s visit provided yet another hope for the suffering Nigerians that the minister would, at least, given an indication of the government’s feelings, particularly when the issue impinges on transportation. But, again, this was to no avail.
They had wondered, does it mean that, the public outcry over the dangerous situation of the road does not matter to the Federal Government? Or is the Federal Government too busy with more pressing issues that it cannot consider the serious threat being posed to lives of the citizens and the economy of the nation in view of the strategic position of their road? Where then lies the hope of the people?
Apparently worried by the seemingly not-so-important attitude of the government to the road, youths of some local government areas along this axis of the East West Road, rose up Friday, threatening total blockage of the road. According to the spokespersons of the youths, if in seven days, nothing was done by government, they would block the road and bring to a total halt all movements.
Should the ultimatum of the vexing youths elapse and the route be totally blocked in protest? Should the tanker drivers withdraw their services? Should NUPENG call out oil workers on a nation-wide strike before the needful is done? The consequences would be so dire to our national economy that is already at a strait.
The consequences of the two actions of youths and oil workers would indeed be too far-reaching. There would be crisis in the distribution of petroleum products, creating scarcity and price increase nationwide. NUPENG strike means calling on oil workers to down tools resulting in a replay of our old ugly tunes. A mental picture of rampaging youths blocking this busy road would be terrible and better left for the imagination.
The best option is for the Federal Government to get on top of the situation and save the nation, a trauma of these ugly events which might follow.
Apart from the refinery, this axis of the East-West Road connects the Federal Ocean Terminal (FoT), the Naval College, Indorama the biggest petrochemical plant in the West African sub-region, and of course, the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone (OGFZ) which hosts over 250 companies.
There is no gain saying that the road plays a major role in the economic life of the nation. But neglect of this road has become historic and many believe that the earlier it is given the attention it deserves, the better for the nation.
The road in question is a Trunk A road whose responsibility to maintain is that of the Federal Government. But the inability of the central government to give adequate attention to the road has directly pushed pressures on Rivers State Government.
Recall that at the inception of the present administration in the state led by Governor Nyesom Wike, it took remedial actions to fix the road which was in a terrible condition and also affecting negatively the operations of companies in the area.
Governor Wike then reached out to the managements of some of the companies operating in the area and initiated a temporary rehabilitation of parts of the road. This step was able to sustain public movement till the present period.
Before Wike’s administration, the preceding administration in the state led by Rotimi Amaechi invested so much resources and funds on Federal Government roads in the state with the hope that government at the centre would refund. But the state could not get its refund till that administration elapsed. The reluctance or unwillingness of Federal Government to refund states what they spent in fixing Trunk A roads in their various areas has become a big discouragement for them to continue.
To be sincere to the Federal Government, it had made efforts in the past to rebuild the East-West road, but that was not achieved. Billions of naira was reportedly uncovered to have been defrauded the system by the contractors who blew the billions and left us all in this mess. Yet, it is the responsibility of the Federal Government to make these contractors to cough out our billions.
Federal Government is expected to find a lasting solution to this East-West road that had for decades remained a nightmare to travelers. It could through its agencies and with the support of the National Assembly save us all from the mess by declaring a state of emergency on this road that is a life-wire of the nation’s economy.
But while expecting the Federal Government’s permanent solution, Governor Wike of Rivers State can also do good by finding a temporary measure to the road. In Wike’s score card, road construction remains one of his winning points and this feat cannot be sustained if people and residents of Rivers State continue to suffer avoidable trauma due to terrible conditions of Trunk A roads in the state.
In fixing the dangerous spots on the Eleme Junction-Refinery road axis of the East – West Road, let Governor Wike also extend this temporary measure to Eleme Junction to Oyigbo axis of Aba Road which is also a Trunk A road and in a state of abandonment.
By fixing these federal roads so far neglected by the central government, Governor Wike would not only be improving his profile as “Mr Project”, but would also be helping the nation in averting another national disaster that goes with a nation-wide oil workers’ strike.
NNPC, UTM Seal Deal On First Indigenous Floating LNG Project
Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and UTM Offshore have signed a Heads of Terms (HoT) agreement for the construction of the nation’s first indigenous floating LNG project.
The agreement, described as a major step towards bolstering Nigeria’s energy security and promoting the utilisation of its abundant gas resources, was signed on July 20, in Abuja.
It covers the 1.5 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) floating LNG project which is seen as a “must-do” initiative for Nigeria.
Signing the agreement, NNPC’s Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO), Mele Kyari, expressed the company’s readiness to secure gas feedstock towards the project.
Group Managing Director UTM Offshore Ltd., Julius Rone, who described the deal as a milestone achievement, said it showcased the capability of indigenous companies to collaborate with world-class energy conglomerates to drive growth in Nigeria’s energy sector.
Rome further explained that apart from significantly cutting down on gas flaring and supporting the country’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions, the project would also create over 7,000 job opportunities, contributing to the nation’s economic growth and development.
For this project, UTM Offshore awarded the contract for the conceptual design service to JGC Corporation back in 2021.
It would be recalled that in late 2022, the consortium of JGC and Technip Energies secured the front-end engineering and design (FEED) contract.
The project was also supported by $5 billion from the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank).
Earlier this year, however, NNPC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Norwegian Golar LNG, an owner and operator of marine LNG infrastructure, to build a floating LNG plant in Nigeria.
‘NNPC Spent N15b To Reconstruct Lagos-Badagry Expressway’
The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd.) has disbursed N15 billion for the reconstruction of the Lagos Badagry Expressway under the Federal Government Road Infrastructure Tax Credit (RITC) Scheme.
The N15 billion represents a 100 per cent payment of the funding of the Lagos-Badagry Road rehabilitation under the tax credit funding of the NNPC Ltd.
Group Chief Executive, NNPC, Mr Mele Kyari, made this known when he led NNPC’s management team with some top government officials to inspect the ongoing rehabilitation and expansion of Lagos-Badagry Expressway (Agbara Junction-Nigeria/Benin Border).
The road under rehabilitation is being funded by the NNPC Ltd. under the Federal Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme.
The execution of the scheme is being carried out in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing as the supervisor and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) for NNPC’s tax obligations deductions.
This is in response to address the plight faced by petroleum products marketers in transportation which affects nationwide distribution.
Kyari said the fund disbursed was part of the N621.24 billion earmarked for the reconstruction of 21 roads nationwide under the scheme.
He expressed satisfaction over the stage of the road development.
“We are covering 1,804.6mkm across the country and taking another set of over a trillion naira investment on infrastructure in Nigeria, believing that with the tax credit system which Mr President has put in place, very soon there will be massive change.
“NNPC as the enabler will consider from its cash flow and fund whatever FIRS and Ministry of works approve for the company”, he said.
The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, represented by the Director, Highways, Roads and Rehabilitation of the Ministry, Mr Folorunsho Esan, said the intervention of the NNPC sped up the reconstruction of the expressway.
Esan said the project was 40 per cent completed.
“In the next 12 months we should be able to deliver this project because the drainages are in place, just for earth works and pavement works, it cannot take us more than 12 months,” he said.
Speaking on the gridlock being caused by the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway project, he said the contractor would clear all impediments and move out of site by December 15 to make the highway free for Yuletide.
Oil Marketers Urge Buhari To Crash Diesel Price
Petroleum marketers under the platform of Natural Oil and Gas Suppliers Association of Nigeria (NOGASA) rose from their 2nd National Executive Council (NEC) meeting last week, within a plea to President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to make dollars available at official rate to oil marketers.
This, they said, will enable them import diesel, end petrol scarcity, and ultimately save the Nigerian economy from sinking, saying that dollar support should be available till Dangote Refinery comes on stream later in the year.
The association, among others, urged the National Assembly to immediately enact a Bill for the establishment of Energy Bank for easy transaction in petroleum products in the sector.
National President of the Association, Mr Benneth Korie, who briefed the media after the NEC meeting in Abuja, noted that the bulk of the operational challenge peppering marketers and depot owners spring from expensive diesel which hovers around N850/litre.
While thanking President Muhammadu Buhari for approving a higher bridging cost payment to transporters, Korie said the operators’ challenges were far from over as oil marketers and depot owners spend about N20 million weekly on diesel to power their operations, thus eroding their profits.
The association urges the National Assembly to review the policy of taxation as it affects petroleum products supply and distribution chain.
Nation3 days ago
PDP Chieftain Makes Case For Culture, Tradition Maintenance
News3 days ago
Ohaneze Moves To End Insecurity In S’East
Opinion3 days ago
Unemployment In Nigeria And Terminal Programmes
Sports3 days ago
LG Football Councils Appoint Chairman, Secretary
Rivers3 days ago
PHCCIMA Partners RSG To Promote Conducive Business Environment
News3 days ago
UNGA ’78: Nigeria Launches NATEP, Moves To Address Unemployment
Nation3 days ago
Tribunal Upholds Gov Alia’s Election
News3 days ago
19.1 Million Nigerian Adults Had Hypertension In 2019 -WHO