20 October 2015, Port Hacourt – Scarcity of petroleum product yesterday worsened in Rivers State as 10 litres of petrol cost N2,500, even as there was no end in sight to the ongoing strike by the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, and its Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigerian, PENGASSAN, counterpart.
Members of the union were picketing the firm over alleged unfair labour practices when they had a confrontation with some policemen.
However, state Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Ahmad Muhammad, denied the allegation of police harassment and molestation of NUPENG members, claiming that the policemen were only drafted to ensure that court bailiffs from the National Industrial Court, NIC, in Bayelsa discharged an assignment from the court to some staff of the firm without problem.
As a result of the strike, black market operators were having a field day when Vanguard went round some of the major roads in Port Harcourt metropolis yesterday.
They were seen making brisk business on major roads and in front of some filling stations in the state capital, Port Harcourt yesterday.
“We get products from the filling stations to sell on the streets. It is not our fault. We did not order the strike. We are just doing our business,” one Ebuka, who sells at Amadiama Roundabout said.
Commercial buses had also taken advantage of the scarcity to hike transport fares.
For example, from Rumuokoro to Education bus stop, which before the strike cost N100, now attract a fare of N150.00, as bus drivers blamed the fare hike on the scarcity of petrol.
Aggrieved motorists who spoke to Vanguard lamented the situation and wondered why the oil workers decided to subject residents of the state to the harrowing experience.
Mr Agbi Festus, who described the action of the oil unions as an abuse of position, said the matter should have been settled in court instead of punishing innocent citizens.
Meantime, Port Harcourt zonal Chairman of NUPENG, Mr Godwin Eruba, yesterday dismissed speculations that the strike had been called off, saying it was still in force.
Eruba confirmed that there was a meeting with the state Police Commissioner, Mr Musa Kimo, on the matter, but said that no agreement was reached.
According to him, the strike would only be called off when conditions given by tlabour were met. Top among them was the recall of all its members whose appointments were allegedly terminated by their employers.