Fuel black marketers are bracing to harvest huge fortune from fuel consumers again as the Petroleum Tanker Drivers wing of National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) gears up to resume its suspended strike action soon.
For weeks now, kerosine has disappeared in most filling stations in Abuja. Around Karu and Nyanya areas of the Federal Capital Territory, this essential commodity is selling at N370 a litre in the booming black market.
Tanker drivers strike action is capable of driving up the price of petrol to as much as N500 a litre, thus igniting a spike in transport fares and food prices amid worsening poverty as a result of the rampaging COVID-19 pandemic.
Fuel tanker drivers are however, threatening to embark on an industrial action from Friday, October 8, 2021 if the Buhari administration fails to address all the contentious issues confronting the union. They have also directed all their members to commence a work-to-rule action from this Monday.
In a communiqué signed by Chairman of Petroleum Tanker Drivers branch, Salmon Akanni Oladiti, after its executive meeting in Enugu, listed three actions which bordered on the safety of its members and the Federal Government reneging on its earlier promise.
NUPENG, according to Oladiti, at its meeting on March 27, 2021, drew the Federal Government’s attention to the increasing rate of fire incidences involving petroleum trucks with accompanying destruction of lives and properties of its members and the public.
Tanker drivers then threatened to embark on a nationwide strike from May 1, but later suspended it.
“Council in session observed with grave concerns and disappointment the deplorable and shameful conditions of the Nigerian highways in spite of several calls and threats we have issued to the various layers of governments.
“These highways have turned to death traps and dens of truck hijackers for the Petroleum Tanker Drivers. Our members are losing their lives and sources of livelihood on hourly basis”, says the NUPENG chief.
Oladiti is also noting an alleged refusal of the Buhari administration to enforce the compulsory installation of safety valve in all petroleum trucks to protect the inflammable contents of trucks from spilling over in a situation of road mishaps.
According to him, “the Council in session sees the failure of Abuja in this regard as the height of insensitivity to the lives of innocent Nigerians and the union cannot continue to fold its hands while our members are getting burnt everywhere and everyday.
Continuing, the NUPENG chief said tanker drivers have considered with pains and total disgust, the continued unscrupulous abuse of the tonnage capacity of petroleum trucks by marketers and transporters across the country which is negatively affecting and impacting on the safety and control of drivers on the wheels as well as the durability and sustainability of the highways.
He said the union could not fathom any logical reason for the failure of Abuja to ensure compliance with basic tonnage requirements on the highways, pointing out that the abuse contributes in no small measure to the increasing carnage on the highways with accompanying loss of lives and properties and the continuing damages of the highways.
He said the union after exhaustive deliberations on all the highly important safety issues, unanimously resolved to resume the suspended action “from October 8, 2021 if the Federal Government fails to address these three key safety measures in view of the fact that our members are usually the first casualties in all these areas of government failures with regard to safety of lives and properties of Nigerians.”
“The Branch Executive Council in session is not unmindful of the pains and discomfort our decisions and intending actions will have on the general public but these are hard and difficult decisions we must take for the sake of our members and even the general public”, Oladiti adds.