By JAMES EZEMA
Long queues as a result of acute fuel scarcity, is not new to Nigerians. Drivers in the past have had to wait for two or more days on queues at patrol stations in parts of the country to be able to fill their tanks.
In some occasions, after the long wait at the filling stations, fuel was either rationed to drivers or they had to bribe the fuel pump attendants to be able to buy a full tank to justify the long wait.
Black marketers had a field day in those horrifying years of incessant fuel scarcity in the country.
A similar experience was looming after the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) on Monday ordered its members, including tanker drivers nationwide, to halt operations in protest against a federal government of Nigeria’s directive banning petroleum trucks above 45,000 litres from plying Nigerian roads.
However, the body has halted the strike following the intervention of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Department of State Services (DSS).
NARTO suspended the two-day warning strike which it commenced on Tuesday, saving Nigerian motorists another round of pains associated with long queues at filling stations in the past.
According to the National President of the association, Yusuf Othman, who spoke to newsmen on Tuesday in Abuja, the body was prevailed upon by some government officials to shelve the strike.
NARTO is the umbrella body of all commercial vehicles owners engaged in the haulage of petroleum products, general cargoes, and movement of goods and passengers within Nigeria and the West-African sub-region.
In his words, Othman said, “Yesterday (Monday), following an emergency meeting of the National Executive Council of our association, it was resolved that transport owners would park their trucks from 22nd to 23rd September, 2020.
“This was in protest of the Federal Government’s decision to ban all trucks of over 45,000 litres capacity from loading petroleum products from all depots throughout the country.
“However, following the intervention of the Group Managing Director of NNPC and the Director-General of the DSS, we are hereby directing all our members to resume operation nationwide.
“This is a directive that we revert to status quo until January 2021 to allow for wider consultation”, he explained.
It is expected that by next year, members of the association would have been able to re-engineer their trucks in line with the federal government directive on the ban of trucks above 45,000 litres from plying Nigerian roads.
Othman assured that members of the association who had already stopped operations had been contacted on the new development.
He expressed high hope that the few hours strike by association would not negatively affect petroleum products supply drastically across the country.
Nigerian labour unions have insisted that they would embark on nationwide industrial action over recent increment on patrol pump price in the country.
It’s believed that federal government and other stakeholders would equally intervene to avert a major fuel scarcity that could lead to a return of the black market exploitation of Nigerian motorists through exorbitant prices of patrol per litre.
In the past, black marketers sold a litre of patrol as high as N400 per litre at a time of scarcity.