MTN, Oando, others stall construction of Apapa Wharf Road

Although the Federal government has granted approval to Dangote Construction A.G. to reconstruct the ever-busy Wharf Road in Apapa, Lagos pro-bono as part of the company’s corporate social responsibility, investigation by SHIPS & PORTS DAILY reveals that the project is being delayed by telecocommunication and gas companies. These companies, which include MTN, Globacom. Etisalat, Airtel and Gaslink Nigeria Limited – a subsidiary of Oando Plc – own underground cables and gas pipelines which could be destroyed or create challenges in the course of the construction work.

The companies have rebuffed meetings and several letters written to them by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to come forward to identify the locations of their underground assets. They have also failed to respond to series of newspaper advertisements placed by NPA. The attitude of the telecommunications companies has led to a delay of the reconstruction of the severely damaged Wharf Road by more than six months already.

Just last week, NPA, through the office of the General Manager, Western Ports, Chief Michael Ajayi, again appealed to the telecommunications and gas companies to attend a scheduled meeting to identify the locations of their cables; but they shunned the invitation, yet again.

A source at Dangote Construction A.G. said the company was fully ready to commence work on the road, “but we can’t start until we have a clear map of where the underground cables and gas pipelines are located”.

He said the company was treading cautiously because it does not want litigation on its hands.

“What we are doing is a CSR. We can’t be doing CSR and expose our company to litigation so that is why we are exercising caution. Besides, if we mistakenly damage any of those underground cables or pipelines, it could affect telephone services and gas supply to Nigerians,” the source told SHIPS & PORTS DAILY on condition of anonymity since he had not been authorized to speak on the matter.

When contacted by SHIPS & PORTS DAILY yesterday, Chief Ajayi again begged MTN, Globacom, Etisalat, AIrtel and Gaslink not to stall the reconstruction work any further.

He said the repair of the Wharf Road by Damgote will greatly facilitate clearance of goods at the Lagos port and reduce the gridlock in the entire Apapa community.

He said, “Tomorrow (today), we have a meeting with all companies having underground assets to enable them move on a single page with us so that they can identify the areas where their assets are so as not to excavate and it becomes a crisis like what happened at Ijegun in Lagos.

“We are talking of gas pipes, telecoms cables, and water corporation pipelines. It is assumed that Messrs. Gaslink has gas pipelines.  It is assumed that Glo, MTN and Etisalat have underground cables. It is also assumed that [Lagos State] Water Corporation also have their own water pipelines everywhere. So they [Dangote] cannot continue to excavate without those companies coming forward to identify the areas where their assets are,” he explained.

Ajayi hoped that the companies will honour the invitation this time.

In a separate development, Ajayi has reassured that the NPA would continue to accord greater responsibility to the Apapa community as the host of the two busiest ports in West Africa.

Receiving a delegation of Apapa Local Government which paid him a courtesy call on Wednesday, Chief Ajayi reiterated that the relevance of Apapa Community cannot be underrated in the overall activities of the NPA.

The General Manager told the delegation that NPA was making all necessary efforts to ensure the rehabilitation of the Creek and Wharf Roads for the restoration of socio-economic activities in the Apapa community as well as to smoothen port operations.

He expressed optimism that the completion of the soon-to-commence rehabilitation work on the road would restore the lost glory of Apapa.

He told the delegation that as part of its palliative measures, the NPA management had contracted works for the repairs of the Creek Road, adding that the work has reached an advanced stage.

The General Manager appealed to the Sole Administrator of Apapa Local Government to devise means of checking the menace of indiscriminate parking by tanker drivers on the roads, considering the attendant negative consequences to road users.

Earlier, the Sole Administrator of the Apapa Local Government Alhaji Luqman Babatunde had told his host that the delegation was on a solidarity visit to NPA. He expressed appreciation for the cordial relation existing between the Apapa community and NPA.

He expressed the strong need for greater cooperation between the two bodies, especially in areas which would have direct positive impact on both the socio-economic and business activities of the Apapa community.

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