NUPENG, police bicker over seized fuel tanker

…Fuel scarcity hit Bayelsa

Samuel Oyadongha

21 August, 2011, Sweetcrude, Yenagoa – The illegal seizure of an oil tanker, belonging to the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), for 9 days in Yenagoa, by men of the Bayelsa State Police Command has resulted in fuel scarcity in the state capital.

It was learnt that talks between the Police, NUPENG and Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to resolve the crisis caused by the seizure of the tanker was deadlocked weekend.

Investigation conducted in Yenagoa revealed that only two independent marketers were still dispensing fuel at the official N65 pump price resulting in long queues while others have since run out of stock, a development that has forced several motorists and product users to resort to black market operators selling between N150 and N200 per litre.

NUPENG it was learnt insisted that the police did not have any legal right to impound its oil truck.

Reacting to the development, the state Director of DPR, Dr. Duncan Eradiri said, “The tanker drivers are asking the police to pay N120, 000 per day for nine days for demurrage. That is where we are. They are insisting that that the police must pay them N1, 080,000 for their truck they delayed for nine days.”

He added that “I have been involved seriously in it and the SSS and even the Bayelsa state taskforce has been working towards resolving the problem. There was no headway yet as at Friday. I tried to talk to the Petrol Tanker Driver’s Chairman in Abuja. The tanker drivers are just turning us round and round. They want that money because they are also saying that sometimes ago; one of their drivers was also killed. Tankers can come in but they won’t be allowed to discharge their products”.

Explaining what led to the seizure of the oil tanker by the police, Dr Eradiri stated, “the man bought a product from a private depot so he was coming to Bayelsa to discharge the product at Amassoma. Then the police arrested them. When the news got to me I intervened and talked to them. They requested for the guideline stating that the product was not diverted. I called the Commissioner of Police who said he was not aware. But he released them on the ninth day.”

At press time, no fewer than six trucks owned by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation loaded with fuel stranded along the Sani Abacha road could not discharge their content due to the crisis caused by the police seizure of the NUPENG tanker which the latter is demanding N1,080,000 as demurrage for undue delay of its truck.

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