Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD), an affiliate of the National Union of Petroleum and Gas Workers (NUPENG), yesterday, announced the suspension of the planned strike by its members, scheduled to start today.
The tanker drivers said the suspension of the action decision followed an intervention by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), which promised to address some of the contentious issues.
The South-West Zonal Chairman of NUPENG, Tayo Aboyeji, who disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in Lagos, said the decision is to allow the government and union’s representatives to address the issues.
“The leadership of the union after a brief meeting with representatives of the government decided to suspend the strike in the interest of the nation.
“The meeting with the government continues during the week with the assurance that the union grievances will be positively addressed,” he said.
NUPENG announced on Saturday that the tanker drivers would commence strike on Monday over the deplorable state of the nation’s highways, which it said had cost the union many lives and damage to property, among other issues.
“This is not the first time that we will signify our intention to go on strike, but we have to call it off because it will generally affect the majority of Nigerians but now our hands are tied,” he said.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), yesterday, appealed to the drivers to immediately shelve the planned strike in the interest and welfare of the Nigerian people.
NNPC spokesman, Garba Deen Muhammed, who made the appeal in a statement, also promised to assist the government agencies in rehabilitating the roads even as it is not its primary responsibility.
Having recognised that the major reason slowing down the rehabilitation of the road networks in the country is the paucity of funds, the NNPC has expressed interest to invest in the reconstruction of select Federal roads under the Federal Government’s Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Task Credit Scheme.
The statement reads in part: “The strike is about the condition of roads in various parts of Nigeria, which are used for the distribution of goods and services including petroleum products.
“However, even though it is not the responsibility of the NNPC to build or rehabilitate roads, any disruption in the distribution of petroleum products to different parts of Nigeria will adversely affect the business of the NNPC and endanger energy security, which the country has enjoyed for a long time now.
“In recognition of this, the NNPC wishes to assure the Petroleum Tanker Drivers that in addition to the ongoing efforts by other agencies of government, the NNPC has initiated a process that will provide a quick and effective solution to the roads network challenges as expressed by the PTD.
“Having recognised that the major reason slowing down the rehabilitation of the road networks in the country is the paucity of funds, the NNPC has expressed interest to invest in the reconstruction of select Federal roads under the Federal Government’s Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Task Credit Scheme.
“The thrust of the NNPC’s intervention is to make considerable funds available for the reconstruction of roads through its Future Tax Liability.”
“NNPC as a responsible corporate entity recognises the legitimate concerns of the PTD; we however appeal to the leadership and members to reconsider their decision in the overall national interest.”
While urging the tanker drivers to give the government and its agencies a chance to solve the challenges in the interest of all, it equally cautioned Nigerians against indulging in panic buying of petroleum products, saying the NNPC has sufficient stock to last through this festive season and beyond.