Nigeria: Bridging cost allowance increase raises fears of fresh fuel price hike

*Petro nozzle.

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

05 April 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – There are fears that with the marginal increase in freight rate for transporters, the Federal Government may have also kick-started the process of hiking the pump price of petrol, with the product likely to sell between N147 and N150 per litre.

Specifically, to satisfy the yearnings of the aggrieved Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) for an increase in transporters’ margin, the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru promised to increase the bridging claims for the tanker drivers from the present N6 per litre, thereby indirectly setting machinery in motion for a possible hike in the price of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS.

The Petroleum Tanker Drivers, PTD, branch of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, on Monday, evening suspended their nationwide indefinite strike, following Federal Government’s approval of bridging cost allowance from N6.20 to N7.20.

National Chairman of PTD, Mr. Salimon Oladiti, who confirmed the suspension of strike, after a meeting with representatives of the Federal Government at the NNPC Towers in Abuja, said government had announced immediate increase of bridging cost allowance from N6.20 to N7.20 for National Association of Road Transport Owners, NARTO, and had directed NARTO to commence immediate negotiation with PTD on a new, Collective Bargaining Agreement, CBA, that expired three years ago.

“We have suspended the industrial action as the government has agreed to increase NARTO’s claims for it to accommodate a new collective agreement with us. The negotiation will commence immediately, while our other demands are being looked into,” he said.

NNPC Group Managing Director, Mr. Maikanti Baru, who announced the increment during his opening remarks at the opening of the meeting between NNPC management and leaders of the Petroleum Tankers Drivers, PTDs, section of the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, in Abuja, said the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, had already approved the increment.

He said the decision to raise the bridging cost was a goodwill gesture by the Federal Government to demonstrate its commitment to resolve all issues affecting their smooth operations.

“I’m happy to announce to you that the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, has just approved the increase of bridging cost allowance from N6.20 to N7.20. This is a good platform for you all to discuss the issues. We expect that with this, you will call off the strike immediately.”

The spokesperson for the NNPC, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, who also confirmed the suspension of the strike, however, refused to respond to inquiries of a likely increase in the price of fuel.

The suspended strike had earlier crippled loading activities at both private depots (Apapa jetty) and the NNPC depots in Lagos and its environs, especially Mosimi.

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