· Truckers accuse Ministry of Works of complicity
· Contractors sell rubbles at N40,000 per tipper
By Kenneth Jukpor
Officials of the Ministry of Works and the contractors of the ongoing road construction for Mile 2/ Tin Can Port access roads have been selling extracted rubbles for N40,000 per tipper, despite earlier promises to use the rubbles in filling potholes.
While the ongoing road construction has meted out immense hardship on commuters of the Mile 2/ Tin Can Port access roads, the supervisors have converted the extracted rubbles and stones into cash cows for themselves.
Our correspondent approached the contractors onsite at Tin Can Island Port (First Gate) to negotiate for a tipper of the rubbles last week and was assured he could get the items at N40,000 per tipper. The engineers onsite also provided contact details of one ‘Mr. Obi’ a supervisor who oversees such deals.
Although findings couldn’t reveal how many tippers have been carted away by the supervisor, our sources say that top officials in the Ministry of Works have also been beneficiaries of this blooming sleaze.
The ideal practice in road construction is for the contractors to make alternative routes passable and utilize the extracted rubbles and sand to fill damaged areas as initial palliatives but the contractors of the Tin Can Island Port access road seem to have adopted a different approach which heightens traffic congestion on the road.
Speaking with MMS Plus on this, the Chairman, Dry Cargo Section of NARTO, Alhaji Inuwa Mohammed told our correspondent that the Ministry of Works had assured the association and other truckers during stakeholders’ meeting prior to the road construction that the potholes would be filled to aid vehicular movements before the construction commences.
The NARTO boss also expressed displeasure that the Ministry of Works has been unperturbed by the unfolding events on the port access road, even as he stressed the Ministry couldn’t claim to be oblivious of the corruption involved in the sale of rubbles which should have been used for palliatives.
He said; “The road construction has affected more than 60% of traffic activities via the Mile 2/ Tin Can route. There is construction ongoing but it is going at a very slow pace and the terminal operators are not receiving empties as they ought to. The palliatives that the contractors promised to do initially have not been done. The rubbles that were excavated from the demolished areas of the road supposed to be used to fill up the potholes as palliatives; but that hasn’t happened. We don’t know where the rubbles have gone but we are aware that they are selling the rubbles. Those supervising the contractors should be held responsible because prior to the road construction, truckers had a meeting with the Ministry of Works and other stakeholders; it was promised that palliatives would be carried out with the extracted rubbles and drainage was stipulated as the initial actions. They only managed to do palliatives in some areas before they technically withdrew. These bad portions of the roads remain, yet they are selling the rubbles”
Another stakeholder at the Tin Can Island Port environ who pleaded anonymity, told MMS Plus that the contractors had been selling the rubbles between N35,000 – N55,000, depending on the negotiating power of the buyer.
The observer said, “Everything you have said is true. The price varies from N35,000 to N55,000 per tipper. It is unfortunate but that is the country we have today. If you’re doing a road construction, you must create palliatives. Part of the road contract should be that you grade the road or fill the potholes. You would have noticed that when contractors begin work on a road they first grade it to make it passable. Subsequently, they close some parts to work while the other part is passable for the vehicular movements and when they conclude on one part the other part is opened”
Meanwhile, he asserted that the contractors earlier indicated interest in utilizing the rubbles for the potholes but they were coerced by top officials of the Ministry of Works to sell the products to private individuals.
When contacted on this development, the Vice Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce, Mr. Kayode Opeifa told our correspondent that he recently received a report on such practice but was yet to verify them.
However, Opeifa stressed that he didn’t want to join issues with the Ministry or its Contract Supervisors even as he revealed that a meeting had been scheduled between the contractors and the Presidential taskforce to ease traffic on the road.
Speaking on the hardship facing truckers on the Mile 2 to Tin Can Island axis of the Oshodi- Apapa expressway, Inuwa lamented that trucks fall daily on the road as a result of gigantic potholes.
“From Coconut outward the ports on the Trinity, Berger axis up to Mile 2, the alternative routes are nothing to write home about. The potholes there are numerous and so big that trucks fall there on daily basis. When they don’t fall, trucks would be stuck there for thirty minutes to one hour and before they are removed, the traffic would reflect on the roads up till the ports. Those trucks that get stuck at such places affect the movement of trucks in and out of the ports” he said.
Noting that the Presidential taskforce has been lampooned for the state of vehicular movement on the road, Inuwa stated that most of the challenges were beyond the taskforce.
“It is also important to note that the intake of empty containers by shipping companies hasn’t increased at the terminals. The process is too slow and capacity is also low because the space is almost filled up” Inuwa added.
Recall that the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) in the penultimate week stated that it may be forced to resume its suspended strike action and ground port activities in Lagos if the Federal Government fails to prevail on the contractors handling the repair works on the Apapa and Tin Can Island axis of the Oshodi- Apapa expressway to expedite action.
Lamenting the hardship of commuters in the region, the President-General of MWUN, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, blamed bad roads, absence of holding bays on the return of the traffic and decried the slow pace of the construction work in the area.
He said, “We need to blame the shipping companies and very soon, we are going to declare a state of emergency because the masterplan of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) is not working. If you remember vividly, we only suspended the strike action last time, and the way things are going now, we may be forced to resume the ultimatum and commence our strike action and the strike will be total if care is not taken. So it will be better for the government to talk to the contractor handling the job to expedite action on it”