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Saturday, February 4, 2023

Lokoja floods, impassable roads responsible for fuel scarcity in Abuja – Transporters

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The Association of Distributors and Transporters of Petroleum Products (ADITOP) says current fuel scarcity in the FCT is caused by flooding at Koton Karfe in Kogi.

Koton Karfe is a community between the FCT and Lokoja where floods had been wreaking havoc lately.

The floods in the area have submerged a greater part of Koton Karfe and Lokoja and have also grounded vehicular movement.

ADITOP also attributed the scarcity to the fact that alternative roads to get to the FCT are damaged and ridden with potholes making it difficult to get to the federal capital.

The association said the situation was frustrating and urged the Ministry of Works and Housing and the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) to fix a glaring solution.

President of ADITOP, Alhaji Lawan Dan-Zaki, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Saturday that the solution was to hasten the reconstruction of the damaged Lambata-Lapai-Agaie-Bida Road in Niger that serves as alternative route.

He said the failed roads, which posed difficulties for truck drivers to ply, would have served as alternative routes for use by petroleum products transporters.

“A lot of our trucks are loaded with petroleum products but cannot go through the flood area freely, while the empty ones cannot return to load products.

“We have two big rivers in Nigeria – River Niger which links Northwest and Southwest Nigeria and River Benue, which affects Lokoja and Eastern parts of the country.

“The bad roads are a challenge to the Federal Ministry of Works, so we appeal to the Federal Government to hasten work on alternative roads.

“This is imperative because our truck drivers spend 10 days while going through the damaged Lapai-Agai-Bida Road and another 10 days while returning to depots,’’ he said.

Dan-Zaki also lamented the frustration faced by truck drivers hauling petroleum products across the country.

“Lapai-Agai-Bida Road linking southern part of the country to take products from Lagos is completely damaged.

“Lokoja Road which we have been managing to transport products from the eastern parts is submerged by flood.

“It is also difficult to take the eastern road carrying products from Calabar-Oghara-Port Harcourt-Warri because the road is bad and truck drivers spend more than a week in trucks queues,’’ he said.

Dan-Zaki also told NAN that truck drivers usually avoided Mokwa Road through Kaduna because of insecurity, adding that drivers were being kidnapped on that route.

“We are appealing to the Federal Government to ensure that the ministry and FERMA do the needful to avoid recurrence of fuel scarcity,’’ he stressed.

The ADITOP president said the NNPC Ltd. had discharged its function by importing sufficient petroleum, but damaged and poor road network and flooding had made it difficult for trucks to distribute the products.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority says measures were being put in place to truck petroleum products via alternative routes to
mitigate the fuel scarcity.

Reacting to the development, Mr Moshood Samotu, Controller, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing in Niger, said work was on-going on the Lambata-Lapai-Agaie-Bida Road.

He said the contractor had been ordered to begin palliative work on soft sections.

He explained that torrential rains had been hindering the movement of articulated vehicles through the soft sections, thereby causing gridlock between Agaie and to Badegi towns.

He said 51 per cent of reconstruction work on the Lambata-Lapai-Agaie-Bida Road had been achieved as at September.

He added that the restriction of articulated vehicles from using Bida–Minna Road by the Niger government diverted all Lagos and Abuja- bound articulated vehicles to the Lambata-Lapai-Bida Road.

Samotu told NAN that the high traffic volume hampered smooth operations at the construction site, causing slow progress of work.

“The Lokoja-Abuja Road is under gridlock, a development that diverted vehicles to Lambata-Lapai Road.

“The Lambata-Lapai section has been completed to an appreciable level, but the Bida-Agaie-Lapai section of the road is still under reconstruction,” Samotu said. (NAN

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