Hundreds of landlords, residents and business owners recently marched around Satellite Town, a community in Oriade Local Community Development Area (LCDA) of Lagos State, in a peaceful protest.
The residents, in their numbers, marched from Marwa Road to Abule Ado and finally to the council headquarters. They were bemoaning the deplorable state of the community due to the activities of tank farms and container terminals located in the area.
The protesters carried placards with various inscriptions like “Relocate tank farms”, “No more tank farms”, and “Remove tankers from our roads”, among others.
The community, which stretches from Alakija to Abule-Ado along the Badagry Expressway to the Waterside area, was designed as a residential location. It was never intended as an industrial estate, the residents noted. They lamented that the location of tank farms and container terminals in the area has made their lives miserable.
Investigations by the reporter showed that there were about 12 tank farms in the area, owned by A. A. Rano, Stallonaire Nigeria Ltd, Emadeb, First Royal, Chipet Nigeria Limited, MAO Petroleum Company, Bond Global Energy Ltd, Menj Oil, Wosbab, Star Oil and Gas, First Deep Water and Ocean Pride Oil.
Chairman of the Satellite Town Forum, Mr. Governor Imitini, said not only were the tank farms capable of exploding, their activities have made life unbearable for residents.
He said: “Since 2013, we commenced a struggle against the structures, which were fewer then. Our whispers over time amassed to groans. In 2018, we sent an SOS to the President and governor of Lagos State and all the relevant institutions and agencies of government. We summed it up with a mega press conference held on December 4, 2018. We thought that we had attracted reprieve that would douse all our sad past. But our conditions have worsened as Satellite Town’s situation deteriorated. We had in the said correspondence presented the squalor and distress we suffer in our community, Satellite Town, owing to the activities of tank farms and container terminals that sneaked into our community, a residential area and proffered as well what government could do to help us.
“The meetings have become uncountable, so also are our position papers and letters written to various tiers of government and its agencies – federal, state and local governments. It has appeared that the more we suffer and complain, the more our hardships increase. Our people are losing patience, the youths of the community are asking serious questions and we the elders are looking back at them because we are dumbfounded beyond expression.
“To worsen the matter, it has become as if Satellite Town has been completely abandoned by all tiers of government, including Oriade LCDA, which cannot do ordinary drainage nor handle normal road repairs or construction. Satellite Town thus became naked and raped with no one to defend her.
“Investigation showed that the activities of oil firms in Satellite Town posed great danger to both residents and motorists. On a daily basis, an estimate of more than 400 petrol tankers loaded with petroleum products are trapped on a single narrow road and most times they leak fuel, causing panic in the area.”
Some of the protesters told the reporter that the operations of the tank farms now amount to a disaster waiting to happen.
Another issue of concern to the community is the bonded terminal located at Alakija with its unending fleets of trailers. To add to this is another container terminal being constructed in Zone 2, Liverpool Estate.
It was further gathered that the tank farms were built on drainage channels and, as a result, floodwater that streams from the expressway under constructed routes can no longer flow to the sea, thereby forcing the flood back into the estates, streets and houses.
This usually results in the submerging of homes, especially when it rains, leading to many landlords and tenants vacating their houses.
Furthermore, there are fears of epidemic outbreak following increase in environmental pollution occasioned by waste dumps from the tank farms as well as oil spills forming stagnant, polluted ponds.
Listing some of the challenges the residents faced, Mr. Ndubuisi Okafor said Satellite Town has long been neglected by succeeding federal, state and local governments and the only functional road has been destroyed by heavy duty vehicles deployed to convey products from the tank farms. No road has been added since the construction of Mumuni Adio Badmus Road to Waterside even to enable people living in Ibasa to take advantage.
“Tankers and trailers are usually parked in a daredevil manner anywhere and anyhow. They are found on gutter covers and pedestrian walkways on the Badagry Expressway, both sides of Old Ojo Road, at the centre and both sides of the narrow and bad Mumuni Adio Badmus Road blocking every available space,” he said..
The residents have charged the federal government to stop approval of new tank farms in the area and, at the same time, construct temporary tanker and trailer parks pending their relocation. In addition, they have asked the authorities to visit Satellite Town and conduct random interviews with residents and road users to obtain a first-hand experience of the chaos and catastrophe that have been unleashed on the community since 2014 when tank farms became their neighbours
To relieve the plight of the community, they suggested that in the meantime, the truck drivers should operate from a park.
“They should not be on the road at the same time. They should be operating ‘on call’ basis. Location of well-equipped ultra modern fire service in the neighbourhood is also paramount.
Satellite Town residents also called for provision of towing equipment that could easily remove broken down tankers from the roads as well as strict regular inspection of tankers plying the route and demobilisation of tankers and trailers that are not road worthy.
“Many tankers leak products on the road which scares the residents and cause stampede,” they said.
Furthermore, they called for safety bays in the community, for ease of evacuation, in case of fire incidents.
Imitini also advised that all government agencies should plan well before approving location of facilities in different areas, to avoid such ugly situations in future.