By Bassey Udo
The intervention by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited in the face-off between oil workers and the Federal Government paid-off on Sunday, as the Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) union agreed to suspend its nationwide strike action planned to commence on Monday.
The PTD is the tanker drivers arm of the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG).
Their role in the petroleum products supply and distribution value chain is to load and transport petroleum products from NNPC fuel depots to retail outlets across the country.
The PTD said its decision to embark on the strike was to protest the deplorable state of the country’s highways and other unresolved issues bordering on the welfare of its members.
The South-west Zonal Chairman of NUPENG, Tayo Aboyeji, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Saturday that the union was planning to embark on the action from Monday to protest the incessant loss of lives by many of its members due to accidents on bad roads.
The Union said after several presentations to the government on the precarious conditions of the country’s roads failed to yield any positive response, members were left with no option than to embark on a protest to register their concern over the bad roads.
But, to avert the looming crisis, the NNPC on Sunday offered to intervene in the repairs of some bad portions of the country’s roads network to avoid the disruption of fuel supplies across the country.
The NNPC assured the tanker drivers that in addition to ongoing efforts by other agencies of government on the issue, it had initiated a process that would provide a quick and effective solution to the roads network challenges they expressed.
The process, the company said, would involve making considerable funds available through its Future Tax Liability to invest in the reconstruction of select Federal roads under the Federal Government’s Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Task Credit Scheme.
Apparently reacting to the assurances by the NNPC, the union, on Sunday, announced the immediate suspension of plans by their members to withdraw their services.
In a statement signed by NUPENG President, William Akporeha, and
General Secretary, Afolabi Olawale, the union said the decision to suspend the planned strike followed the understanding reached with the management of NNPC at a meeting held in Ibadan, Oyo State, on Sunday.
Both officials said a communique issued at the end of the meeting indicated that a follow-up meeting on the outcome was scheduled for Tuesday in Abuja.
The statement announcing the suspension of the planned strike action reads in part: “The suspension of our planned action is predicated on our belief that the understanding reached with the government today (Sunday) as well as at the meeting of Tuesday 12th, October 2021 will be fulfilled to the letter.
“We wish to clearly make it known to all well-meaning Nigerians that have variously appealed to us on these issues that our planned strike was not intended to inflict further pains on Nigerians, but to ensure observance(sic) of minimum safety on our highways for the good of lives and properties.
“We are well aware of the impacts our actions usually have on the people, businesses and the nation at large, but we cannot continue to watch as things continue to degenerate in our industry.
“In the light of the above, the Union will not hesitate to re-commence the action without any notice, if the understanding reached in these two meetings are not fully implemented within the timeframe agreed.
“With this, our Petroleum Tanker Drivers are hereby directed to continue providing services for the efficient and effective distribution of Petroleum products to homes and workplaces across the country.
Our Solidarity remains constant for the Union makes us strong.”