FG Moves to Placate Petroleum Tanker Owners, Meeting to Continue Today

FG Moves to Placate Petroleum Tanker Owners, Meeting to Continue Today

Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja

The federal government will continue its peace meeting with the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) today after the first move to resolve the strike action embarked by the union failed yesterday.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), Senator Heineken Lokpobiri,  convened the meeting with NARTO, oil marketers and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) in his Abuja office to end the strike.

However, when the consultation with the stakeholders started, journalists were excused, but it was learnt that the meeting was deferred till today after the actors failed to arrive at a resolution.

But THISDAY observed that many filling stations had closed shop in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), leading to long queues by motorists at the few outlets that were dispensing petrol.

The stakeholders had complained that aside rising spare parts prices, price of moving products around occasioned by increasing diesel prices were making things difficult.

Earlier, NARTO had suspended their operations in fulfilment of their earlier threat to down tools beginning yesterday (Monday).

Among the filling stations mostly affected were the NNPC filling station on Arab Road in Kubwa, Abuja, Conoil filling station along the Zuba-Kubwa expressway and NNPC retail outlet in the Central Business District of Abuja.

But before the meeting yesterday, Lokpobiri told journalists that the meeting will continue as the government seeks to find a solution to issues raised by the transporters.

“We have been having engagement with different stakeholders in the downstream petroleum industry based on some concerns which were raised. The engagements are still continuing and we hope that we will be able to find solutions to those concerns as soon as possible. Engagement will continue tonight till tomorrow.

“But it should be pointed out very clearly that they have demonstrated utmost good faith and patriotism. It should also be known that the issues have nothing to do with the government.

“It is basically commercial. But as a government we have decided to intervene so that Nigerians will not suffer unduly,” he stressed.

Lokpobiri had said that with the hardship already being experienced by Nigerians due to ongoing reforms in the country, it would be wrong for the government to fold its arms while petroleum tanker drivers go on strike.

Before Monday’s strike action, NARTO’s National President, Yusuf Othman explained that the tanker owners had been recording huge losses due to high cost of operation which is no longer sustainable.

Othman explained that members would park their trucks from Monday (yesterday) because members’ expenditure on their operations were more than returns.

Othman disclosed that NARTO’s efforts at soliciting the intervention of all the key stakeholders in the federal government and industry have not yielded positive results.

“What we spend on operation is more than what we get in total: both in local and bridging. We will have to suspend operations latest from now till on Monday.

“We cannot continue to operate at a loss. Most people have parked. A lot more are going to park. But from the point of the association itself, we are going to suspend operations on Monday,” Othman said in a statement last weekend.

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