NUPENG threatens strike over bad roads, extortion

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The Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has threatened an industrial action over the poor state of roads in the country.

The union also gave the Nigerian government a two-week ultimatum to fix the roads across the country.

Speaking at the end of the union’s virtual National Executive Council meeting on Thursday, NUPENG’s National President, Williams Akporeha, said owners of petroleum products go through difficulties moving their products across Nigeria due to the poor state of roads.

He said: “We wish to urgently draw the attention of the federal government to the harrowing experiences of the owners of petroleum trucks in the country.

“The only means of moving petroleum products across the country is by roads, using the trucks. We can confidently tell you that this means of distribution is presently endangered and require urgent federal government stimulus intervention fund to prevent it from total collapse.”

The union also urged the Nigerian government to immediately address the issue of multiple roadblocks and extortions from all security agents.

The labour ministry, already battling with similar threats, is yet to respond to the latest impending strike.

‘Roadblocks of extortion, death traps’

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, there have been measures by the Nigerian government to curb the spread of the disease across the country.

Parts of the measures put in place include declaration of curfew and total lockdown in most parts of the nation.

Similarly, a ban was placed on inter-state travels in March to prevent people from spreading the virus after moving from different locations to another. Security officials have also been drafted to border posts in different states to regulate non-essential movement.

Since the Nigerian government placed a ban on interstate travel, there have been reports of extortion at the roadblocks mounted by security officials across the country.

The ban has since been lifted, effective Wednesday, July 1.

Demands

On Thursday, NUPENG urged the government to look into cases of extortion across the country.

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Failure to do this might force the union to embark “on a serious industrial action to drive home our case,” Mr Akporeha added.

The NUPENG official explained that most of the nation’s highways are becoming death traps for the union. He listed the roads to include Calabar-Itu-Uyo, Port-Harcourt-Aba, Mokwa-Jebba-Kaduna, Port-Harcourt-Owerri, Warri-Benin-Auchi-Okene-Lokoja, among others.

“We are shocked at the lackadaisical attitude of local, states and federal governments to the issues of addressing the degenerating state of Nigeria roads before the coming of the current raining season despite all our warnings for them to make necessary construction, repairs and maintenance of all our roads, which are now in a parlous state and becoming practically impassable,” he said.

“The issue of bad roads is further compounded by the various security agencies who now set up multiple checkpoints on these deplorable roads to further exploit and extort money from motorists. Petroleum tanker drivers are the worst hit by the exploitative tendencies of these unscrupulous security agencies.

“The brazen extortion of our members, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic was really disconcerting and unfortunate.”



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