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Security, tanker drivers rift induces fuel scarcity in Rivers

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Misunderstanding between the Nigerian Police and the Petroleum Tankers Drivers (PTD) is inducing fuel scarcity in Rivers State.

The Guardian learnt that some police officers had impounded trucks of the drivers for allegedly loading suspected adulterated petroleum products.

Chairman of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) in the state, Joseph Obele, said samples of the products were taken for laboratory analysis and it was confirmed that the products in the trucks were genuine.

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Obele said security operatives invited the owners of the products to back their trucks, lamenting that when they got at the station, the over 33,000 litres of petrol had been siphoned.

“Thereafter, the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) wing of IPMAN demanded a shutdown of supply of petroleum products in Rivers State.

“So, there will be scarcity of petrol in a few days if no measures are put in place to address the matter, because filling stations are beginning to run out of products and that is why queues have resurfaced everywhere,” he stressed.

Explaining the rift between the union and security operatives, Commissioner for Energy and Natural Resources, Dr. Peter Medee, said the matter started since May 5, 2007 when security operatives seized tanker drivers’ trucks for allegedly loading illegal products.

Medee, who confirmed that he has the documents on his table, said, after a laboratory test confirmed that the seized products were legal, the security agencies went ahead to auction the trucks and the 33,000 litres of fuel.

“The Union went to court and the court ruled in their favour and ordered the police to pay N24 million to the drivers, as value of the trucks and N6 million for their expenses

“But the police did not comply with the court judgment, which forced the union to take the matter to the Senate and the Senate also ordered the police to comply with the judgment. So, the Union wrote to the state government and the police recently and gave a 14- day ultimatum to implement the court judgment or face total shutdown,” he added.

Medee said the 14-day ultimatum expired on Sunday, July 18, 2021 and the strike commenced on Monday, July 19, noting that efforts were on to ensure that the situation did not lead to unnecessary fuel scarcity in the state.

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