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Fears over petrol scarcity as long queues surface in Abuja

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Motorists queue for petrol in Abuja

Cars on queue to buy fuel at Major Oil station in Abuja on Tuesday , April 20, 2021. PHOTO: PHILIP OJISUA

Long fuel queues returned to the streets of Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, days after the government said there will be no increment in petrol price.

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Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) responsible for delivering fuel to the filling station had planned to go on strike over the failure of the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) to negotiate the renewal of the collective bargaining agreement for new working conditions for the drivers.

The collective bargaining agreement expired six years ago.

The national chairman of PTD, Salmon Akanni Oladiti, said the drivers union would 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.

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Oladiti also panned the “increasing rate of fire incidences involving petroleum trucks with accompanying massive destruction of life and property of members and the general public.”

He blamed that on the government’s 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.

But the plan to go on strike was dropped after the drivers met with the boss of government-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Mele Kyari on Monday.

“The strike was necessitated by the inability of their employers, NARTO, to increase their compensation leading to the industrial action. We were not able to resolve it last week,” Kyari said.

“We have given commitments to both NARTO and PTD that we will resolve the underlying issues within a week and come back and have a total closure to the dispute, both in terms of government responsibility, NARTO’s and the PTD’s.”

Kyari also said at the meeting that there would no increase in the price of petrol in May.

Long fuel queues are not strange in Nigeria with years of intermittent scarcity of supply.


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