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 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 said on condition of anonymity since he had not been authorized to speak on the matter.

When contacted by 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 Dangote 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.

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