Fuel scarcity looms across the country as the National Executive Council (NEC) of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) branch of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has directed its members to begin preparations for a nationwide strike.
The union’s grouse is against the poor state of the country’s highways and other safety issues, for which it blames the government.
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This was contained in a communiqué issued on Monday after a meeting held on Saturday in Enugu by its council, and signed by the PTD Chairman, Comrade Salmon Akanni Oladiti, and Secretary, Sunday Ochibe Jivwie.
The union said after deliberating on the safety issues, the council resolved to resume the suspended action of May 1, 2021.
The communique reads in part: “Consequently, all petroleum tanker drivers are directed to immediately embark on work-to-rule action with effect from 27th September 2021, in preparation for total withdrawal of their services from 8th October 2021, if the federal government fails to address these three safety concerns.
“These highways have turned to death traps and dens of truck hijackers for the PTD. Our members are losing their lives and sources of livelihood on an hourly basis.
“The council notes with deep concern the refusal of the federal government to enforce the compulsory installation of safety valves in all petroleum trucks to protect the inflammable contents of these trucks from spilling over in a situation of road mishaps.”
The union said it regarded this failure as insensitivity on the part of the government, noting that the installation of the safety valve would greatly cut down the rate of fire accidents involving petroleum trucks.
The union is also concerned about the abuse of tonnage capacity by marketers and transporters, which it said was affecting the safety of drivers and the durability of the highways.
The communique further reads: “The council in session could not fathom any logical reason for the failure of the government to ensure compliance with basic tonnage requirements on the highways.”
Work-to-rule is a job action in which employees do no more than the minimum required by the rules of their contract, and precisely follow all safety or other regulations which may cause a slowdown or decrease in productivity as they are no longer working during breaks or during unpaid extended hours and weekends.
The union justified the planned strike, saying its members were usually the first casualties in all the areas of government’s failure with regards to the safety of lives and property of Nigerians.
If the strike holds, there may be petroleum scarcity as the drivers would not be lifting products from the various depots and other storage facilities belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).