By Emmanuel Addeh
The National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) has instructed its members to resume work after the intervention of the leadership of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Department of State Services (DSS) over its decision to withdraw services, commencing Tuesday morning.
The union said that after interactions with the NNPC and DSS, it was satisfied with the commitments from both government bodies, noting that it will now sit down and reach a resolution with stakeholders before January over the matter.
Speaking through its National President, Alhaji Yusuf Othman, the group noted that while it appreciates the additional burden on the roads by the operation of its facilities throughout the country, the sudden decision to ban the tankers was unacceptable.
On Monday, NARTO, the umbrella body of all commercial vehicle owners in Nigeria, engaged in the haulage of petroleum products, general cargoes and movement of goods and passengers within the country and the West-African sub-region, directed its members to withdraw its services throughout the country.
It said it received with shock the government’s decision to place an immediate ban on all petroleum trucks above 45,000 litres capacity from plying Nigerian roads.
Othman noted that many of its members took the initiative, which was suggested by the previous government, to invest heavily in expanding their fleet of various capacities to deliver products to everywhere in the country, stressing that the ban was without any consultations.
He argued that its members took loans from various commercial banks with very high interest rates and with no form of support from government to re-engineer the trucks to the 45,000 and above capacity trucks which the union has been asked to withdraw.
“The new government now wants to impose and introduce a new policy about maximum capacity on our roads. The government is doing so without any consideration for the plights of our members and other attendant effects,” the body lamented.
It noted that though it is not against the decision of the federal government to ban the use of trucks with more than 45,000 litres capacity in the conveyance of petroleum products considering the dilapidated state of Nigerian roads, it is particularly concerned about the sudden nature of the ban.
However, in another briefing Tuesday, Othman urged members to disregard the initial instruction to stop work, adding that the outcome of its meeting with both the DSS and NNPC lesdership was satisfactory.
He said: “You may recall that yesterday, following an emergency meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC) of our great association, it was resolved that transport owners would park their trucks from 22 to 23 September, 2020.
“This was in protest against federal government’s decision to ban all trucks of over 45,000 litres capacity from loading petroleum products from all depots throughout the country.
“However, following the intervention of the Group Managing Director (GMD) of NNPC and the Director-General (DG) DSS, we are hereby directing all our members to resume operation nationwide with immediate effect while negotiation continues.
“This is a directive that we revert to status quo until January 2021, to allow for wider consultation. We expect that by then we would have resolved the matter and necessary measures taken to reduce the weight.
“We thank all members for their support and cooperation and praise their patience as we all wait to see to the peaceful resolution of the issues.”