NNPC, DSS intervene as NARTO suspends strike till 2021
Stakeholders raise concern as FG enforces haulage policy
Although the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Department of State Services (DSS) intervention has forestalled the tanker owners warning strike, stakeholders have raised concerns over the policy on haulage of petroleum products and other commodities in the country.
The Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) had on Monday ordered their members to begin a two-day warming strike. This followed Federal Government’s decision to ban all petroleum tankers above 45,000-litre capacity from conveying products on Nigerian roads.
NARTO, however, told The Guardian in Abuja yesterday that it suspended the warning strike, because their concerns were being addressed, stressing that in the absence of pipelines, one third of petroleum tankers in the country were overloaded above the 45, 000-litre capacity.
Its president, Yusuf Othman, noted that government’s sudden ban would be insensitive, saying although the group had deferred the strike to first quarter of 2021, the development that led to the excess capacity followed collapse of pipelines and depots, which resulted in constant scarcity of petroleum products.
The President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration had reportedly told the transporters to increase their capacity to ameliorate the situation by ensuring that products scarcity was reduced.
He noted that NARTO’s leadership was not against ban on the trucks, but that the decision came too sudden
Most stakeholders in the sector, however, blamed government for the development, as they raised concern over the state of roads, poor transport policy, removal of weight bridges on highways and government’s inability to make pipelines functional.
They argued that the implications included increasing road fatality, rapid infrastructure decay and other multiplier effects, insisting that the country had poor quality assurance policy, which would have ensured that trucks and tankers were built to specifications, while roads were properly marked depending on type of vehicles and their capacities.
The association lamented that over N2.5 trillion had been voted for federal roads in the past 20 year, while the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) had stated that no fewer than 2,699 persons had been killed in road accidents between January and June last year.
Also, no fewer than 18,198 persons had been injured in 5,423 crashes recorded during the period.Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, disclosed last year that the weight bridges would be rolled out across the country to protect Nigerian roads by guarding against excess cargo weights.
A quality assurance expert, Sunny Eromosele, who noted that a sustainable approach was necessary to remove tankers from roads, blamed the Federal Government for the development.