By Bassey Udo
Oil workers suspend the planned strike action after the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited and interest groups reached key resolutions on major issues affecting the smooth operation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry.
The decision to call off the planned strike by the oil workers was taken at the end of the meeting on Thursday in Abuja between the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD), National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) with the management of the NNPC.
NUPENG, NARTO and PTD had threatened to embark on a nationwide strike action that ground downstream sector if the federal government failed to take steps to resolve the issues that affect the smooth transportation and distribution of petroleum products.
Some of the issues the oil workers canvassed as their greatest concerns included the deplorable conditions of the country’s roads, which they said were responsible for scores of accidents that resulted in the death of several of their members.
Also, the oil workers complained against the high freight rate for transporters of petroleum products across the country.
Following the threat to embark on a nationwide strike action to enforce their demands, the NNPC management offered to intervene, by undertaking the construction and rehabilitation of some the major roads using the road infrastructure tax credit scheme.
As part of the resolutions during the meeting on Thursday, NUPENG, NARTO and PTD agreed to collaborate with the NNPC and other interest groups, including the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), to ensure uninterrupted supply of petroleum products nationwide.
During the meeting, the NNPC provided updates on the current status of the road construction and rehabilitation projects under the road infrastructure tax credit scheme.
The company assured the oil workers of its commitment to ensure that the funding earmarked for the 21 critical roads would be applied for the purpose for which it was intended.
To allay the fears of the stakeholders, the NNPC management and all other parties also expressed commitment to work together in monitoring the execution of the road projects.
On the review of freight rate for transporters, the stakeholders requested for the completion of the ongoing discussions on the issue to cover operational costs.
They also highlighted the precarious situation that truck owners face in the light of current economic realities in the country.
On its part, the NMDPRA informed the meeting that a committee has already been constituted to review the freight rates, which include those for PTD, NARTO and NUPENG, in addition to other stakeholders.
Besides, all parties agreed to work expeditiously towards concluding the review of the freight rate and make recommendations to the government.
The industry regulatory authority was expected to advise on the definite close-out date on the issue during the week of February 21, 2022.
In a communique issued at the end of the meeting in Abuja, representatives of the oil workers, NMDPRA and NNPC resolved to collaborate to ensure availability of petroleum products nationwide.
Also, all parties agreed to work closely to ensure efficient distribution of petroleum products across the country.
The communique was signed by the National Chairman of PT, Otunba Oladiti; NARTO President, Yusuf Otthman, and NUPENG President, Williams Akporeha; Executive Director (Finance & Accounts, NMDPRA, Abiodun Adeniji, and the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mele Kyari.