There was tension in Damaturu, Yobe State capital as tanker drivers blocked the Maiduguri-Kano highway in the early morning of yesterday.
The incident happened when the personnel of the Yobe State Road Transport Authority (YOROTA) asked a tanker driver to pay N500 when he loaded his vehicle with charcoal en route to Kano.
When the arguments began between the two parties, the tanker drivers blocked the Maiduguri-Kano highway in Damaturu.
Eyewitnesses said the crisis began when one of YOROTA’s men insisted that the tanker driver must pay N500 since he loaded his tanker with charcoal.
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It was gathered that the petroleum tankers’ drivers’ union of the state had been accusing the YOROTA personnel of extorting their members since inception this year.
The drivers’ actions caused serious gridlock and untold hardship to commuters in Damaturu.
However, the security personnel from Yobe State Police Command were sighted trying to address the issue.
When contacted, the state police spokesman, Dungus Abdulkarim, said he was not aware of the conflict and promised to get back to our reporter.
Similarly, trailer drivers with the Dangote Cement factory at Obajana in Kogi State have brought activities in the plant to a halt following their protest that rocked the company over alleged “unfair treatment” by its management.
The protest, which was reported to have started in the early hours of Monday made the aggrieved truck drivers block the only access road to Kabba from the Lokoja axis.
According to the report from Obajana on Tuesday, many of the drivers were seen demonstrating and chanting derogatory slogans despite the presence of security personnel.
By the afternoon of Tuesday, activities in the company, including the loading of products came to an abrupt end, following the protest of the drivers that started on Monday.
The drivers identified poor working conditions, remuneration, and inhuman treatment of staff as the kernel of the matter.
In a swift reaction, the Head of Corporate Communications, Dangote Group, Tony Chiejina said the truck drivers were angry over the company’s move to install anti-theft devices on the trucks.
“They are demanding the removal of such devices to enable them to continue to steal fuel from the truck when they are to deliver cement.
“I have never heard of anywhere staff will get angry for installing anti-theft devices to prevent fraud and losses to the company,” he said.
Chiejina added that the drivers were adequately taken care of in terms of remuneration, saying that “The company cannot and will not allow them to continue to steal from the company”.
From Habibu Idris Gimba (Damaturu) & Tijani Labaran (Lokoja)