By Adewole Kehinde
The Petroleum Tanker Drivers, PTD, branch of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, on Friday, October 8, issued nationwide strike notice to the Federal Government to address three key pending issues.
The issues are deplorable federal roads across the country, Petroleum Trucks safety valves and abuse of tonnage capacity by oil marketers and transporters.
It will be recalled that members had earlier scheduled a nationwide strike on March 27, 2021, but had to shelve the action after pleading and assurances by the government that the issues would be addressed.
However, seven months later, the issues have remained unresolved and unattended by the Federal Government.
In a communiqué issued at the end of its Branch Executive Council Meeting in Enugu, members resolved to begin a work-to-rule action from Monday, September 27.
In the communiqué by National Chairman of PTD, Otunba Salmon Akanni Oladiti, said among others, “Council in session observed with grave concerns and disappointment the deplorable and shameful conditions of the Nigeria highways in spite of several calls and threats we have issued to the various layers of governments.
Otunba Oladiti reiterated that these highways have turned to death traps and dens of trucks highjackers for the Petroleum Tanker Drivers. Its members are losing their lives and sources of livelihood on an hourly basis.
“The lists of these highways are endless and Petroleum Tanker Drivers have been going through harrowing situations even while rendering selfless national services, to ensure delivery of Petroleum products to homes and factories in every nook and cranny of this country, day and night, in good and bad weather.”
Having considered the pains and discomfort Petroleum Tanker Drivers decisions and intending actions will have on the general public, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation on Saturday, 9th October, 2021 called on Petroleum Tanker Drivers to, in the interest and welfare of the Nigerian people call off its planned strike action.
According to a press release signed by NNPC Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Garba Deen Muhammad, he said that even though it is not the responsibility of the NNPC to build or rehabilitate roads, any disruption in the distribution of petroleum products to different parts of Nigeria will adversely affect the business of the NNPC and endanger energy security, which the country has enjoyed for a long time now.
The NNPC further assured the Petroleum Tanker Drivers that in addition to ongoing efforts by other agencies of government, the Corporation has initiated a process that will provide a quick and effective solution to the roads network challenges as expressed by the PTD.
The NNPC has expressed interest to invest in the reconstruction of selected Federal roads under the Federal Government’s Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Task Credit Scheme.
According to the statement from the Corporation, it says that the thrust of the NNPC’s intervention is to make considerable funds available for the reconstruction of roads through its Future Tax Liability.
The NNPC on Saturday appealed to PTD to immediately call off the strike notice and give the current efforts by government and its agencies a chance to solve the challenges in the interest of all even as the Corporation strongly advised Nigerians not to engage in panic buying of petroleum products as the NNPC has sufficient stock to last through this festive season and beyond.
On Sunday, 10th October, 2021, the Petroleum Tanker Drivers called off their planned strike action.
The development came after intensive engagement involving the leadership of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation officials and other government agencies.
“NNPC wishes to appreciate the maturity and patriotism of the leadership of the PTD; and to also reiterate its resolve to actively participate in finding a quick and effective solution to the concerns raised by the PTD, Garba Deen Muhammad said.
Aside the responsibilities of the corporation range from exploration and production, petroleum product marketing, engineering and data support services, training, and crude oil refining to construction and maintenance of a network of pipelines, NNPC’s intervention to make considerable funds available for the reconstruction of roads through its Future Tax Liability is a welcome development.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation must be commended for stopping the proposed nationwide strike by the Petroleum Tanker Drivers.
It has averted the devastating effect the disruption in the distribution of petroleum products to different parts of Nigeria will have on the business of the NNPC which would have endangered energy security, which the country has enjoyed for a long time now.
Adewole Kehinde writes from Abuja and can be reached via 08166240846, 08123608662. firstname.lastname@example.org