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Tanker Drivers Threaten Strike Over Bad Roads

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Tanker drivers in the country, under the auspices of Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) have threaten to embark on indefinite strike action due to bad state of roads in the country.

This is as petroleum marketers, under this auspices of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria(IPMAN), are going into partnership with the Association of Distributors and Transporters of Petroleum Products(ADITOP), to maintain sanity in the downstream sector of the oil and gas industry and avert oil scarcity.

National chairman of PTD, Comrade Salmon Akanni Oladiti, who disclosed this in a press briefing in Abuja yesterday, frowned at the deplorable state of the federal highways and the painful experiences of members while carrying out their duties across the country.

Oladiti noted that there are unscrupulous moves to highjack and frustrate the repairs and reconstruction of agreed 21 critical roads in the country.

He recalled that at a two separate meetings with the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the leadership of the union,  held in October last year, a communique was signed indicating the readiness and willingness of the NNPC to finance the rehabilitation of identified 21 critical roads at an estimated sum of N621 billion through Road Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme.

The national chairman of the association, however frowned that  up till this moment nothing has been done on those critical roads, while some roads have been taken over by bandits.

He alleged that some staff of state governments, officials of ministry of works and housing and politicians are already depleting these funds and misappropriating them on roads and projects not intended in the agreement as approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

“Unfortunately, and to our greatest shocks, we heard it from very reliable sources that some vultures in the garbs of being state governments, officials of Ministry of Works and Housing and Politicians are already depleting these funds and misappropriating them on roads and projects not intended in the agreement as approved by the Federal Executive Council

Meanwhile, IPMAN president, Elder Chinedu Okoronkwo, who made the disclosure to the media, said the strategy will weaken the threat by the National Association of Transport Owners(NARTO) who recently issued a threat to embark on industrial action.

Okoronkwo said, IPMAN is not part of any trade association and would not go on strike to further compound the predicament of Nigerians.

He said, members are already heavily indebted to banks and therefore cannot afford to stagnate their businesses, adding that, many have shut down operations already as a result of harsh operating environment.

The president said, IPMAN is now ready to confront the excesses of the NARTO and Petroleum Tanker Drivers(PTD), who illegally fleece marketers.

“They are not registered under oil and gas but should operate as dry dock but today they are gradually redefining operations of marketers who have signed bulk purchase arrangement with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Limited,” he said.

“We have lost over N27 billion over time from illegal fees they collect from marketers. They collect about N45,000 per truck and taking in millions that ought to be part of our margins and are building stations and purchasing trucks at the expense of duly licensed marketers,” he said.

Okoronkwo said the marketers have decided to clip their wings and will not allow such fraudulent practice to continue.

He raises concern  over dwindling margins of marketers and heavy debts hanging on neck of members.

“The products we purchase with N1 million in the past is now about N7 million without additional margin to operators.” he said.

NARTO had earlier threatened to stop haulage of petroleum products across the country over N430 per litre cost of diesel and other operational challenges.

NARTO national president, Yusuf Lawal Othman, stated in Abuja on Monday that, operational cost has become unbearable and would in the coming week cripple haulage of products.

While some states including the Federal Capital Territory have been struggling with fuel scarcity despite promises of sufficient petroleum products by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited, Othman said, the challenge could escalate across the country.

The association had earlier decried the delay in the payment of about N45 billion bridging cost, demanding for an increase in the transportation allowance factored into the pump price of petrol but the continuation of the payment of petrol subsidy meant that the freight cost would remain.

Earlier this year, the Federal Government had hinted at a 20 per cent hike in the cost of freighting petrol across the country, as part of measures to boost the revenue of transport owners. The increase would have raised the cost of bridging petrol to N9.11 per litre from N7.51 in the petrol pricing template of Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency(PPPRA).

Othman said: “we will tell them (tanker drivers) to park if nothing is done because we can’t operate in such way.

“Therefore, transporters whose freight rate is fixed and regulated cannot sustain the business if nothing is done.

“We can’t operate. We can’t work if nothing is done to increase the freight rate. The condition is unbearable because of cost of diesel.”

 

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