Another fuel scarcity is imminent as the tanker drivers arm of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) begins indefinite strike from Monday in Lagos.
The leadership of the union on Friday afternoon in a statement signed by the President, Williams Akporeha and General Secretary, Olawale Afolabi
directed the withdrawal of services of petroleum tanker drivers from Lagos State with effect from Monday, 10th August 2020.
According to the union, this was as a result of the failure of various authorities in the State to address three major issues that have severely caused pains and harrowing experiences on their members in the State for several months.
“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 am, Monday, August 10, 2020 if there are no decisive and convincing actions from Lagos State Government to address these concerns and challenges,” the duo stated.
The union said the entire rank and file members of the union are deeply pained, frustrated and agonized by the barrage of challenges being consistently faced by them in Lagos State and are left with no other option but to direct the withdrawal of their services until Lagos State Government and other relevant Stakeholders address these critical challenges.
The union said it was sad and disheartening to note that it had made several appeals and reports to Lagos State Government and the Presidential Task Force for the decongestion of Apapa all to no avail.
They expressed that the union cannot afford to fold its arms while the members are being consistently and continually extorted, intimidated, harassed and victimized by different groups and segments in Lagos.
According to the leaders of the union, three major challenges the petroleum tanker drivers are facing in Lagos State include extortion of money from them by various security agents, menace of containerized trucks at Apapa, Kirikiri and Beach Land axis and collusion of government officials hindering tankers from loading as well as harassment and extortion by Area Boys and Area godfathers.
The statement reads in part, “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. Everyone of them should be contented with their salaries and allowances rather than turning hapless Petroleum Tanker Drivers to money making machine.”
The union lamented that 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 bedeviling the smooth running of the operations of tanker drivers in Lagos State.
“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,” it said.
It added that for safety reasons, tanker drivers cannot continue to struggle with the containerized trucks in those corridors considering the inflammable nature of the products they carry.
The leadership of NUPENG said the situation 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 area boys menace, the union said it was worrisome that Lagos State which is known to be a mega city and centre of excellence has now become a safe haven for area boys and area godfathers who now see petroleum tanker drivers as soft targets, extorting money from them everyday, assaulting them and vandalising their trucks in some instances, especially when some of the tanker drivers show restraints in paying them illegal fees and levies.
It stated further, “Tanker drivers whose activities cut across Oguntedo, old Ojo road, Ijegun-Egba, Abule Ado and its environs in Satellite town, Oriade local government area, and Apapa corridor of Lagos state have continued to work in fears, following incessant attacks by members of various notorious groups who have developed penchant for extorting money forcefully from tanker drivers. They are known for operating unchallenged and freely around Apapa, Kirikiri, Mile 2, Maza-Maza and Abule-Ado, near Trade Fair flank etc.”