Tanker Drivers Resume Loading
The situation, according to Ajuonuma, was aggravated by a misunderstanding between some Petroleum Tanker Drivers and security agents over allegation of extortion in Apapa, which made the drivers to stop lifting fuel for 48 hours thereby causing a hitch in fuel supply to Lagos and its environs.
Ajuonuma said the Corporation regretted that “spirited efforts aimed at eliminating the noticeable fuel queues in some Nigerian cities in the last few days, especially Lagos and Abuja, have been slowed down by some extraneous factors”.
He continued “First was the sudden strike embarked upon by members of the Folawiyo Jetty branch of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, over a minor dispute over loading procedure.”
Confirming the development, the NUPENG chairman in charge of the western states, Nujeen Korodo, said the tanker drivers had to suspend the strike despite the fact that the matter has not been permanently put to rest.
According to him, it took the intervention of the newly elected president of NUPENG, an employee of the NNPC, who, he said, pleaded with the drivers to suspend their strike action, for the matter to be resolved.
He noted that the National Security Adviser, also entreated the union members to suspend the strike. He said: “The Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, through the commissioner of police, talked to us to shelve the plan. Through the commissioner of police, we were linked up with the commander of the Nigerian Navy at Apapa. I personally spoke to him and showed him a letter containing our grievances, and he promised that all the issues will be addressed so that we could commence loading.”
Insisting that the issue of infrastructure, harassment and brutality has always been there, Korodo alleged that, prior to the strike action, his members were being extorted by the Naval personnel.
“They collect a ransom of N5000 to N30,000 before they will give you access to their loading point. It depends on how you can bargain very well; and this contributed to the parking of lorries on Apapa bridge, because we wanted to shield our members.”
On whether Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) will be available the tanker drivers’ proposed resumption of loading today, Korodo noted that even the depot owners do not have the product.
According to him, they marketers are hiding under the pretext of the strike to send wrong signals to Nigerians. “That’s why we don’t want to be linked up with that. We want Nigerians to see who is lying – the marketers or the union. NNPC is claiming that they still have enough,” said Korodo.