The national leadership of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has ordered petroleum tanker drivers to withdraw their services from Lagos State with effect from August 10, citing alleged grossly unconducive environment.
The directive followed failure of various authorities in the state to address three major issues causing problems for petroleum tanker drivers in the state.
Its National President, Comrade (Prince) Williams Eniredonana Akporeha, and General Secretary, Comrade Olawale Afolabi, made this known in a press statement yesterday.
The union said: “The entire rank and file members of the union are deeply pained, frustrated and agonized by the barrage of these challenges being consistently faced by petroleum tanker drivers in Lagos State and are left with no other option but to direct the withdrawal of their services in Lagos State until Lagos State Government and other relevant stakeholders address these critical challenges.
“It is sad and disheartening to note here that we had made several appeals and reports to the Lagos State Government and the Presidential Task Force for the decongestion of Apapa on these challenges but all to no avail.
“We cannot afford to fold our arms while our members are being consistently and continually extorted, intimidated, harassed and victimized by different groups and segments in Lagos.
“It is really disturbing and as well inexplicable that security agents who are expected to ensure the free flow of traffic and protection of road users now use their uniforms and arms to intimidate, harass and extort money from petroleum tanker drivers.
“This reprehensible conduct is taking serious tolls on the psychological, emotional and financial state of petroleum tanker drivers and their capacity to effectively and efficiently deliver services to the nation.
“This menace must stop and the leadership of these security operatives in Lagos State must go all out to call their men to order with immediate effect. Every one of them should be contented with their salaries and allowances rather than turning hapless petroleum tanker drivers to money-making machines.”
The union further said: “Persistent traffic gridlock and indiscriminate parking of containerized trucks on major Lagos roads and bridges leading to Apapa Port, Kirikiri, Beach Land, Satellite Town, Ijegun are another major setbacks bedevilling the smooth running of the operations of petroleum tanker drivers in Lagos State.
“As at today, MRS depot has been held captive for more than three months from discharging products to petroleum tanker drivers despite heavy availability of petroleum products stockpiled in their tank farm facilities.
“For safety reasons, petroleum tanker drivers cannot continue to struggle with these containerized trucks in these corridors considering the inflammable nature of the products our members carry and we cannot afford to undermine safety standards, procedures and protocols in the course of our services.
“This is a situation that appears to have defied solution, considering government’s non- intervention, lack of sensitivity over the years and collusion by those called upon by the Presidency to proffer solutions to the problem.
“From Oshodi/Apapa Expressway, Ojuelegba Bridge, Iponri and Constain, the situation is the same.
“Ikorodu Road through Funsho Williams Avenue (formerly Western Avenue) to Ijora inward Apapa and Oshodi-Apapa Expressway through Mile 2 to Berger Yard inward Tincan Island have been overwhelmed with the indiscriminate parking of these articulated vehicles, aggravating the gridlock faced by petroleum tanker drivers that ply the roads daily to lift products.
“For several months now, the Mile 2-Apapa Expressway (formerly Malu Road, now Mobil Road) has been witnessing terrible traffic gridlock leaving petroleum tanker drivers stranded and helpless.
“It’s really worrisome that Lagos State which is known to be a mega city and centre of excellence has now become a safe haven for area boys and area godfathers who now see petroleum tanker drivers as soft targets, extorting money from them every day, assaulting them and vandalising their trucks in some instances, especially when some of the tanker drivers show restraint in paying them illegal fees and levies.
“Petroleum tanker drivers now battle with both area boys and area godfathers amidst the deplorable state of the roads in Lagos State, and this is really causing petroleum tanker drivers lots of havoc on a daily basis, a distance of just about 10 kilometres, for example, now takes seven to eight hours of manoeuvres and meandering by petrol tankers, many of which break down in the process, upturning their contents, killing petroleum members and endangering the lives of several other Nigerians who traverse the roads. Without sounding immodest, further delay in their repairs portends greater danger to the citizenry.
“Tanker drivers whose activities cut across Oguntedo, old Ojo Road, Ijegun-Egba, Abule Ado and its environs in Satellite Town, Oriade Local government Area and Apapa corridor of Lagos State have continued to work in fears, following incessant attacks by members of various notorious groups who have developed penchant for extorting money forcefully from tanker drivers. They are known for operating unchallenged and freely around Apapa, Kirikiri, Mile 2, Maza-Maza and Abule-Ado, near Trade Fair flank and so on.
“Consequently, as a socially responsible organization, we have made wide consultations with various leadership organs of our union and with other key stakeholders in the oil and gas industry and therefore resolved to embark on an indefinite strike beginning from 12 am, Monday, August 10, if there are no decisive and convincing actions from the Lagos State Government to address these concerns and challenges.”