FUEL SCARCITY LOOMS IN LAGOS, AS GOVT BATTLES TANKER DRIVERS
Nigerians may have to contend with another round of fuel scarcity, following threats by members of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas (NUPENG) workers to embark on strike over seizure of their trucks by the Lagos State Government.
Daily Sun learnt from some of the drivers, who were sighted at the Lagos State Secretariat, Alausa Motor Park where the impounded trucks were parked that the state government had drawn the battle-line by impounding their vehicles.
Mr. Bola Sarumi, one of the drivers said the state government had made the release of the vehicles impossible for them by requesting for tax clearance, which he said most of the drivers and owners of the tankers did not have.
According to him, 'I'm ready to pay the towing fine but the government officials asked me to present my tax clearance. This is a rigour I cannot pass through. We will mobilise our people to stop work so that government can release our vehicles.'
Poised to go for the state government's jugular, the General Secretary of NUPENG, Mr. Elijah Okugbo said the government had gone too far by impounding the vehicles without prior dialogue with the leadership of the oil workers.
He said Lagos oil depot remained the only terminalfrom where fuel was distributed to other parts of the country due to the problems of other depots.
'Though, we learnt that the state Commissioner for Transport, Mr. Kayode Opeifa directed the tanker drivers to take their vehicles away from the road, we think it would have been better to discuss with us before embarking on the exercise,' he said.
Okugbo argued that tanker drivers were not responsible for heavy traffic on Apapa Road, blaming the situation on what he called terrible state of the road.
The union leader pointed out that the Federal Government had failed to repair the roads, stressing that the union was generally averse to strike as an option.
'It is not in our character to go on strike because the citizens will suffer more than government officials, who are enforcing the law without contacting the leadership of oil workers,' he said.
In a swift reaction, the Lagos State Commissioner for Transport, Mr. Kayode Opeifa said the state government opted to tow the vehicles to facilitate repairs of the road.
Daily Sun gathered as at the time of filing this report that at least 29 vehicles had been impounded by government since the operation began.