Another major round of petrol scarcity nationwide was averted yesterday after the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) convinced the leadership of the Petrol Tanker Drivers (PTD) onto shelve its strike, which was already causing queues build-up in filling stations in Abuja.
The tanker drivers had withdrawn their services, following the failure of the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) to negotiate the renewal of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) for new working conditions for the drivers.
They also demanded the compulsory installation of safety valves in all petroleum trucks to protect the inflammable contents from spilling over in case of road mishaps.
Speaking after a meeting with the unions in Abuja, the Group Managing Director, NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari, assured them that their grouses would be resolved in about a week.
While urging Nigerians not to engage in panic-buying, he assured marketers that there will be no immediate increase in ex-depot price of petrol and urged Nigerians to stop panic buying of petrol as the corporation has over two billion litres in stock.
The corporation had said that until negotiations with organised labour were concluded, there would be no increase in the pump price of petrol.
“The strike was necessitated by the inability of their employers, NARTO, to increase their compensation leading to the industrial action. We were not able to resolve it last week.
“We have given commitments to both NARTO and PTD that we will resolve the underlying issues within a week and come back and have a total closure to the dispute, both in terms of government responsibility, NARTO’s and the PTD’s,” Kyari stated.
He added that the NNPC also had robust engagements with oil marketing companies in “respect to the increase in the volume that is being taken into the Nigerian market.”
He stated that all the stakeholders also agreed to work jointly with the security agencies to contain any possible infractions leading to some of the issues arising across the borders.
“We will allow the agencies to do their work and increase surveillance to make sure that fraudulent practices across our borders are contained and brought to the barest minimum and this involves the engagement of the police, DSS, Nigeria Customs and other agencies of government, given the responsibility of ensuring that no cross-border smuggling takes place,” he added.
On the impasse between the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) and oil marketers, Kyari stated that engagements are ongoing to make sure that payment issues between PEF and oil marketing companies are resolved.
“All parties will engage to ensure all protocols are stable so that ultimately, oil marketing companies will not owe the PEF and PEF will not hold back dues that are due oil marketers,” he said.
Kyari said during the meeting, it was also agreed that the process of making products available to oil marketers would be improved henceforth, while the NNPC would ensure its implementation soon as a way of reducing distribution cost.
“Let me also assure you that NNPC will not increase ex-depot price. That’s the assurance we are giving. Petroleum products are very abundant. We have over two billion litres of petrol in our custody.
“Many of our fuel depots are stocked and there’s really no cause for alarm. With this understanding from tanker drivers and NUPENG, there’s no need to panic, no need to rush at the filling station,” he stated.
Some other attendees at the event were the National President, NARTO, Mr. Othman Yusuf; PTD National Chairman, Akanni Oladiti and Chairman, Ardova PLC, Abdulwasiu Sowami.