Fuel scarcity loom as tanker drivers threaten to disrupt fuel distribution nationwide

By Our Correspondent

Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) branch of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has threatened to stop the distribution of petroleum products across the country due to what it described as unbearable working condition.

In a statement issued at the end of their meeting in Ibadan, at the weekend, the workers expressed concerns over the alleged reluctance of the Nigeria Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) to renew the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) for new working conditions for members of the PTD, which expired six years ago.

The statement signed by National Chairman of PTD, Salmon Akanni Oladiti, said the branch would no longer be able to guarantee continued service of members in the petroleum products distribution across the country if new conditions of service for PTD are provided within 14 days, with effect from March 27, 2021.

The union expressed worry that its members have been going through “harrowing financial situations while rendering selfless national services” to ensure delivery of petroleum products to homes and factories daily on deplorable highways.

According to Oladiti, the expiring collective bargaining agreement has been in operation for six years even when the country has been experiencing a spiral inflationary trend that is being complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among other issues, the PTD also expressed worry over the “increasing rate of fire incidences involving petroleum trucks with accompanying massive destruction of life and property of members and the general public.”

The union lamented the government’s dilly-dallying attitude towards the enforcement of compulsory installation of safety valves in all petroleum trucks to protect the inflammable contents from spilling in case of a road accident. PTD directed its members to withdraw their services if the installation of a safety valve is not made mandatory in all petroleum trucks with effect from 1st of May 2021.

Oladiti said the decision became necessary in view of the fact that the drivers are usually the first casualties in fire accidents involving petroleum trucks.

“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,” the statement read.

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