The respite from the long queues at petrol stations across the country following improved product supply may be short-lived as the Petroleum Tanker Drivers Branch of National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (PTD-NUPENG) has threatened to embark on a nationwide strike.
The tanker drivers said they are embarking on the industrial action over what they alleged to be illegal activities and high-handedness of security agents, particularly the Military Task Force operating in the Port Harcourt zone of the union.
National chairman of the PTD-NUPENG, Comrade Lucky Osesua, alleged that soldiers attached to the Military Task Force operating in Port Harcourt burnt two of their trucks conveying black oil (HPFO) on Tuesday night.
Addressing journalists in Abuja yesterday, Osesua said the truck drivers were falsely accused of transporting crude oil.
He stated that the trucks which lifted the black oil at a modular refinery, Walter Smith Refinery and Petrochemical, Ibigwe, in Imo State, on Monday and Tuesday, were intercepted between Ahoada and Elele in Rivers State.
Giving the number plates of the trucks as EFR 770 XA and AFZ 351 ZY, the PTD- NUPENG national chairman said the petrol tankers were conveying 40,000 litres each of the black oil to Bob & Sea Depot Koko Delta State.
According to him, the drivers of the two trucks were polite in their responses and even presented all the necessary documents to officers of the military who ignored the documents, turned deaf ears to the appeals and burnt the trucks.
Osesua who presented the documents to journalists said, “The drivers presented WayBills, NUPENG receipts, and quality control documents. But the military men still insisted that they carried crude oil.! They drove the the two trucks away and burnt them between Ahoada and Elele in Rivers State on Tuesday night.
“Without investigation, without reaching out to the refinery where the drivers mentioned that they lifted the black oil, the soldiers burnt the trucks in less than five hours.”
Providing more evidence, the PTD- NUPENG national chairman also presented documents signed by Charles Okon, refinery manager of Walter Smith Refinery and Petrochemical, where the products were loaded.
He said the Union had taken a decision to stop lifting products at its Port Harcourt zone, noting that the same decision to stop loading nationwide would be taken by Monday except costs incurred as a result of the high-handedness of the Military Task Force were addressed.
“Enough is enough about the high-handedness of our security agents. They should stop demonising our Union and persecuting our men who are doing their normal business. We expect that in this modern world, trained security agents should be able to identify black oil as against crude oil. We should not be at the receiving end of their ignorance,” he stated.