Govt averts pending strike with Petrol Tanker Drivers

Petroleum tankers, a nuisance on Nigerian roads.

Petroleum tankers, a traffic nuisance on Nigerian roads.

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

28 January 2015, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Federal Government said that another pending fuel crisis in the nation had been averted following Tuesday’s meeting with aggrieved management of the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO).

The government’s position was contained in a communique issued at the end of the meeting between officials of the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (Management) Board, PEF(M)B, in Abuja with NARTO officials and executives of other relevant unions in the oil and gas sector.

Others unions in attendance included representatives of Major Marketers Association of Nigeria and Petroleum Tankers Drivers.

The communique was signed by Executive Secretary PEF, Mrs. Sharon Kasali, on behalf of the government, recalled that NARTO had on January 15 issued a 10-day ultimatum to the government over some unresolved issues affecting its operations.

NARTO is the central platform for all trucks and petroleum tanker owners used in conveying products from Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation depots to filling stations nationwide.

The association, in a letter by its President, Kassim Bataiya, to PEF, said it would be compelled to boycott all activities if the grievances of its members were not resolved within 10 days.

NARTO said it would suspend its operations of distributing petroleum products all over the country pending when the issues were resolved.

It listed some of the issues affecting their smooth operations to include slow response from application of Aquila Project II and alleged undue delay in freight payments, leading to cash flow problems.

Project Aquila is an electronic business solution introduced by PEF to help monitor the loading, transportation and delivery of petroleum products at all depots.

According to the communique, the issues agitated on by the association, particularly those related to payment of claims, had been addressed at the meeting.

It stated that payment for marketers claim for transportation of refined petroleum products were being carried out on a constant and continuous basis.

It further said that “due diligence had been concluded on all manual claims and those found not to have met the minimum requirements for processing payment were yet to be returned to the concerned marketers.

“All those that passed the minimum requirement tests had been processed and paid,” it stated.

According to the communique, evidence was presented to confirm the dedication of the board staff to their duties even on weekends and public holidays.

It added that the PEF Board would ensure uninterrupted and improved service delivery always. It, however, stated that any complaints shall be looked into and appropriate sanctions applied.

“Efforts had been made to communicate new policies and guidelines to marketers while the board further pledged to improve on its communication strategy with all stakeholders.

“The board informed NARTO members that there were currently five tagging teams operating at different sites in Lagos (two), Ibadan, Enugu and Kaduna,” it added.

It further disclosed that about 13,600 trucks had been tagged nationwide to date, with a 2-D encrypt code imprinted on the body of petroleum tankers.

Meanwhile, the PEF(M)B and NARTO/PTD have pledged to meet monthly at committee level with MOMAN, on a quarterly basis, to quickly resolve any issues.

The National Chairman of the PTD, Chief Salimon Oladiti, and the Executive Secretary of MOMAN, Obafemi Olawore, confirmed to the the unions’ agreement in the communique.

The meeting was also attended by NNPC Retail Representative, Tafida A.T. and Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency representative, Ishaku Abner.

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