19 May 2015, Lagos – The Petroleum Tanker Drivers arm of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, on Monday a suspended loading of petroleum products in the entire South West zone, including Ilorin.
Our correspondent gathered from sources in Apapa, Lagos that the suspension of product loading was indefinite.
“This is, indeed, a very challenging time for businesses in the downstream sub-sector of the petroleum industry. As we speak, there was no loading today (Monday) in the whole of the South West, including llorin,” one marketer, who did not want to be named, told our correspondent in a telephone interview.
“We don’t know when this action will be called off,” the source added.
Another marketer, who was willing to reveal the content of the message sent by the PTD, said the situation had got out of hand.
The message from the PTD group to NUPENG members read, “Comrades/unit chairmen/executives, you are directed to suspend all loading activities in all the depots as from Monday, 18th of May, 2015.
“There will be severe sanctions for any chairman/others that does not comply.”
Our correspondent learnt from industry sources that the tanker drivers were advised to take the action by the marketers, who were owed subsidy arrears running into over N200bn by the Federal Government.
There have been heightened fears among the marketers that they may not be paid the subsidy arrears if the current government does not take full responsibility to liquidate the debt.
Two weeks ago, the tankers were withdrawn from the roads by the National Association of Road Transport Owners in protest against the failure of the marketers to pay their transport claims for lifting products from the depots to filling stations across the country.
The Executive Secretary, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Thomas Olawore, had hinged the inability of the marketers to pay the transporters on the settlement of the subsidy claims owed the marketers by the Federal Government.
Despite the payment of N154bn to the marketers, who in turn made a part payment to NARTO, the scarcity of petroleum products, especially petrol, has persisted, grounding economic and social activities in the country.
Olawore had earlier confirmed that the marketers paid NARTO from the N154bn subsidy claims paid to them by the Federal Government.
He said NARTO’s N20bn outstanding claims would be paid as soon as the government paid the outstanding N200bn subsidy claims.