Wednesday, February 19, 2020 4:35 pm
…The Strike is a clear sabotage because we’re solving all issues raised—Dr Peter Medee, Commissioner for Energy and Natural Resources
Okafor Ofiebor,/Port Harcourt
Panic has gripped residents of Port Harcourt as woke up on Wednesday to discover that petrol stations across the city are under lock due to a strike called by stakeholders in the petroleum products distribution chain in protest over seizure of trucks allegedly being used for transportation of stolen products.
Residents of Port Harcourt had heaved a sigh of relief last week when a planned strike by Independent Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG over the same issue was called off.
Officers of the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army were said to have impounded 16 trucks being used for transportation of stolen products.
Vice Chairman of NUPENG, Port Harcourt Zone, Lucky Etuokwu confirmed the strike.”We directed our members to shutdown all filling stations, truck movement and other operations of our members in Rivers State despite the intervention of Government through the Dr. Peter Medee, Commissioner for Energy and Natural Resources because our trucks are yet to be released by the Army and the Chairman of the State Task Force on Street Trading, illegal Markets and illegal Motor parks, Bright Amaehule, has refuse to dialogue with us”
He confirmed that the directive is in protest of seizure their trucks by a Task force set up by the Rivers State Government to de-congest roads and highways within the State and by security agencies who suspect products in the trucks were stolen.
However, Commissioner for Energy and Natural Resources, Dr. Medee has expressed shock at the declaration of strike.
“It is most unfortunate that those I regarded as very critical stakeholders are beginning to act in a manner that the state government is not comfortable with. These are people who have series of problems, but when I came into office I resolved four important critical trouble they had.
“They told us one of their members was in in Prison and we must release him. At 10pm Monday night I sent for one my staff to prison to confirm the man involved and the information was that he was jailed by Court, After going the due process, the man was released to them yesterday, Tuesday, February 18. So if we have done that, and for the trucks they said were seized by the Army,we met with the GOC,6 Division he had approved that they be released we are in processes to release those trucks. And there were also trucks with EFCC at certain stages of investigation. lf we are doing all of that and they still go on strike, there is some undercurrent and sabotage to the state.
“For instance, a Tanker was parked for days along Eliozu road, obstructing traffic, The driver was arrested and I was driving towards the Police Station to effect his release also. For a government that is doing all these and you still go on strike, then the action is no other than sabotage against Rivers people and the state government. Its quite unfortunate.”
A stakeholder and a Marketer of Petroleum products who does not want to be named agrees with the Commissioner that there is sabotage going on.
“For the past four years,and during festival period, the federal government ensured that there are enough products. Those expected to make seasonal gains were disappointed because there were products every where. Those championing this strike are who have loaded their stations with products and want to cause artificial scarcity to make more money.”
Meanwhile, the long queues have surfaced in few stations that are selling in Port Harcourt.