Kpo Fire: Fuel Scarcity Looms, In Rivers …As Tanker Drivers Mull Strike Over Impounded Trucks
Port Harcourt, the Rivers State Capital and its environs may witness another scarcity of petroleum products as members of the Rivers State chapter of Petroleum Tanker Drivers unit of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) on Friday, February 14, began an indefinite strike in protest against what the members termed undue harassment from security agents in the state.
Investigation by The Vortex indicated that the tanker drivers were protesting alleged maltreatment of their members by personnel of the anti bunkering unit of The Nigerian Army and the Rivers State Taskforce on illegal parking and street trading whom they accused of harassing its members.
According to the drivers, soldiers of the Anti-Bunkering unit allegedly impounded a number of their vehicles on the allegations that the petroleum products which they claimed was officially loaded from the Abonnema Wharf depot, were adulterated products.
Narrating the reasons for the strike a chief driver in the Abonnema wharf depot who is also the chief security officer of the Tanker Drivers Unit in the area, Comrade Oyoyo said the crises erupted when a detachment of soldiers of the antibunkering team impounded some trucks at the Abonnema wharf/Azikiwe junction area alleging that the product contained in the trucks were adulterated.
He said all entreaties from the leaders of the Union and the depot management on the soldiers to release the vehicles failed as the anti-bunkering officials impounded the trucks and took them to their office in Port Harcourt.
He described the actions of the soldiers as an effront on the Union and the management of the Nigerian Natural Petroleum Company (NNPC) as he insisted that the products were genuinely loaded from the Abonnema depot.
According to him the soldiers refused to release the vehicles even after documentary evidence were presented to them by the depot management to show that the products were loaded from the depot.
He wondered how soldiers who are not professionals in petroleum product quality could categorise and determine which product is kpo-fire’ or adulterated product.
Another driver, Comrade Williams, told The Vortex that the truck drivers are also protesting against the Rivers State Tasksforce on illegal parks and street trading, who they accused of impounding their trucks on the claim that the truck caused obstruction on the road.
Comrade Williams claimed that the Tanker driver was forced to parked along the road because of faults on the vehicle before the Taskforce Team swooped on the driver and impounded it, despite proofs that the vehicle was in faulty condition.
Williams disclosed that the Union had planned that the strike would go full scale on Monday February 18, stressing that union leaders “this morning ordered all drivers to down tool as a result of the soldiers action against our members.”