Nigeria:Petroleum drivers begins strike on Monday

The leadership of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has directed the petroleum tanker drivers to withdraw their services from Lagos State from August 10.

The union said the decision followed the failure of various authorities in the state to address three major issues that have “caused pains and harrowing experiences on the hapless” drivers for several months.

In a statement issued by Williams Akporeha, NUPENG national president, on Saturday, the union said they are left with no choice but to down tools.

“It is sad and disheartening to note here that we had made several appeals and reports to Lagos State Government and the Presidential Task Force for the decongestion of Apapa on these challenges but all to no avail,” read the statement.

“We cannot afford to fold our arms while our members are being consistently and continually extorted, intimidated, harassed and victimized by different groups and segments in Lagos, hence we highlight to the general public the following three major challenges Petroleum Tanker Drivers are facing in Lagos State.”

The union listed the three major issues to include extortion of drivers by security agents, the menace of containerised trucks, and harassment by area boys.

“It is really disturbing and as well inexplicable that security agents who are expected to ensure free-flow of traffic and protection of road users now use their uniforms and arms to intimidate, harass and extort money from Petroleum Tanker Drivers.

“This reprehensible conduct is taking serious tolls on the psychological, emotional and financial state of Petroleum Tanker Drivers and their capacity to effectively and efficiently deliver services to the nation.

“This menace must stop and the leadership of these security operatives in Lagos State must go all out to call their men to order with immediate effect. Every one of them should be contented with their salaries and allowances rather than turning hapless Petroleum Tanker Drivers to money-making machine.”

According to the union, the menace of trucks at Apapa, Kirikiri and Beach Land axis of Lagos and collusion of government officials are hindering petroleum tankers from loading activities at depots and tank farms:

Persistent traffic gridlock and indiscriminate parking of containerized trucks on major Lagos roads and bridges leading to Apapa port, Kirikiri, Beach Land, Satellite Town, Ijegun, are another major setbacks bedevilling the smooth running of the operations of Petroleum Tanker Drivers in Lagos State, the union said.

“As at today, MRS depot has been held captive for more than three months from discharging products to Petroleum Tanker Drivers despite heavy availability of Petroleum products stockpiled in their tank farm facilities.

“For safety reasons, Petroleum Tanker Drivers cannot continue to struggle with these containerized trucks in these corridors considering the inflammable nature of the products our members carry and we cannot afford to undermine safety standards, procedures and protocols in the course of our services.

“This is a situation that appears to have defied solution, considering government’s non-intervention, lack of sensitivity over the years and collusion by those called upon by the Presidency to proffer solutions to the problem.”

On the harassment by area boys, the union said tanker drivers have continued to work in fear due to incessant attacks by members of various notorious groups who have developed a penchant for extorting money forcefully from them.

“Petroleum Tanker Drivers now battle with both Area Boys and Area God-fathers amidst deplorable state of the roads in Lagos State, and this is really causing PTD lots of havoc on a daily basis.

“A distance of just about 10 kilometres for example, now takes seven to eight hours of manoeuvres and meandering by petrol tankers, many of which break down in the process, upturning their contents, killing PTD members and endangering the lives of several other Nigerians who traverse the roads.

“Consequently, as a socially responsible organization, we have made wide consultations with various leadership organs of our Union and with other key stakeholders in the oil and gas industry and therefore resolved to embark on an indefinite strike beginning from 12 a.m., Monday, August 10, 2020, if there are no decisive and convincing actions from Lagos State Government to address these concerns and challenges.”

By Ben Ezeamalu

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