By Chineme Okafor
Finally, residents of the Federal Capital City (FCT) Abuja Friday heaved sighs of relief from over a week scarcity of petroleum products in the city as members of National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) resumed lifting of petrol to service stations in.
Following the development, the biting petrol scarcity that had crippled the city in the last one week is expected to begin easing-off from today as petrol stations in the city were seen taking delivery of products following the suspension of strike by oil workers.
Most of the stations visited by THISDAY were actually open for business, dispensing petrol to customers albeit, the existence of long queues of vehicles jostling to buy petrol.
NUPENG had after seven hours of talks in Abuja with the Federal Government agreed to call off the strike it embarked on which halted the supply of petroleum products to the FCT.
According to the outcome of its meeting with government, the union will also no longer disrupt fuel supply nationwide as it had earlier planned to do to press home its demand for the payment of subsidy claims to indicted oil marketers.
NUPENG, which had earlier issued an ultimatum to the Federal Government to pay the oil marketers or face a nationwide strike by Thursday, directed its Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) branch to immediately commence lifting of petroleum products into the FCT.
The meeting on Thursday was chaired by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, in his office and had in attendance representatives of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), NUPENG, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Jetty and Petroleum Tank Farm Owners of Nigeria (JEPTFON) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Also, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu who read a communiqué of the meeting, listed the issues which had caused the dispute by the union to include: the payment of 2012 petroleum subsidy arrears; non-payment of salaries and threat to oil workers’ jobs; the state of the nation’s refineries and roads; labour issues in Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and Chevron and the restructuring of loans of depot owners and oil marketers.
Wogu noted that both parties agreed that all marketers accused of fraud in the Petroleum Support Fund (PSF) scheme should submit themselves to the ongoing verification exercise.
Both parties had also set up two sub-committees to look into issues concerning unfair labour practices in Shell and Chevron.
“The meeting confirmed that the Federal Government has been paying verified claims and will continue to pay all claims so verified. The depot owners and oil marketers agreed to keep their facilities open and pay the salaries of their workers.
The meeting agreed for continuous engagement between the government and the unions,” the communiqué read.
Accordingly, an agreement was reached to hold another meeting in two weeks to review the status of the implementation of the Thursday's decisions at the meeting.