PENGASSAN suspends strike amid long queues at fuel stations


Less than 24 hours after it began an industrial action, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has backed off following the recall of its members who were sacked by Neconde Oil. But the agony of motorists in Lagos, Abuja and other cities across the country yesterday continued as the fuel supply situation witnessed no improvement.

Communicating the latest move, the National Public Relations Officer of PENGASSAN, Fortune Obi, said the suspension was after the intervention of the Director of DSS, Mr. Lawal Daura, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige and the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu.He added that Neconde Oil Services, which allegedly sacked some PENGASSAN members, had re-absorbed those affected. According to Obi, the management of Neconde also agreed to allow a workers’ union in the company.

Ngige and the union therefore agreed to resolve an anti-union posture by other indigenous companies and marginal field operators. Another round of meeting where the agreement would be firmed up has been slated for the second week of January 2018.Meanwhile, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has cautioned motorists and other petroleum products’ consumers not to engage in panic buying. It warned marketers against hoarding products as law enforcement agencies, working with industry regulators, had been detailed to take appropriate measures against any defaulter.

The corporation further assured that there were enough petroleum products to keep the nation running. It also said yesterday in Abuja that relevant government agencies were in consultation with industry unions to arrive at an amicable resolution of issues over which there were threats of an industrial action.

Despite the NNPC’s assurance, Lagos residents yesterday saw the return of long queues at petrol filling stations.Black marketers made brisk business out of the situation. A 10-liter jerry was sold for about N2,500 depending on the location and seller instead of N1,450 at the normal pump price. A Conoil retail outlet along Airport road was under lock. One of the attendants told The Guardian that fuel was out of stock at the station on Sunday night owing to very long queues at the weekend.She disclosed that a truck was delivered to them midnight Friday and that she did not know when the next one would arrive.

The situation was the same at Forte Oil close to the local airport in Ikeja, as the premises were locked up while queues were outside. YTK Petroleum along Lagos-Abeokuta expressway was also locked up with no attendant sighted.Other stations monitored were Mobil along airport road, MRS, Blue Shore Oil and Gas, Mojak and Total, among others.

Motorists in Ogun State had the same experience to narrate. From Sango, Ifo, Papalanto, Itori, Wasinmi, Obada Oko to Abeokuta, the few filling stations dispensing the product experienced long queues, as others who had opened earlier shut down around noon. The few stations that were dispensing, sold a litre for between N160.00 and N170.00.

The development led to a sudden increase in fares, leaving many commuters stranded at bus stops and motor parks in major cities across the country.The North-East operations comptroller of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Alhaji Idris Ali Zoaka, said in Maiduguri yesterday that some independent oil marketers and motorists are abetting fuel hoarding and price hike in Borno and Yobe states.

Zoaka advised motorists and the public to cooperate with DPR personnel by providing credible information on the fuel situation.He disclosed that 12 erring fuel stations had been sealed off for hoarding and selling fuel above the official pump price.

He, however, noted that the defaulting filling stations were allowed to sell the hoarded fuel to prevent further fuel scarcity.He ordered a fine of N100, 000 to be paid into the Treasury Singe Account (TSA), before the erring fuel stations to resume the selling of petroleum products.


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