Federal Government Urges Dialogue as Tanker Drivers Threaten Strike Over Rising Costs

Federal Government Urges Dialogue as Tanker Drivers Threaten Strike Over Rising Costs

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In efforts to avert the looming suspension of operations by members of the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) beginning today (Monday), the Federal Government has directed oil marketers to engage in negotiations with the association.

Reports indicate that oil marketers and NARTO executives have engaged in discussions approximately six times over the last two days, prompted by the announcement of a planned halt in the transportation of petroleum products by NARTO members.

To address the situation, the Federal Government, through the downstream regulator and the Ministry of Petroleum, will convene a meeting today (Monday) in Abuja involving NARTO members and other stakeholders to address the underlying issues.

This development comes amidst concerns raised by independent marketers regarding the continuous depreciation of the naira against the US dollar, potentially leading to an increase in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) to as much as N1,500 per litre in the near future. The recent surge in the dollar rate, exceeding N1,500, has significantly impacted the importation of petrol by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), with speculation arising about ongoing fuel subsidies despite silence from NNPCL.

Last Friday, The PUNCH reported on the impending fuel scarcity as NARTO vowed to cease the lifting of petroleum products beginning Monday due to exorbitant operational costs. NARTO members have repeatedly voiced concerns about the high cost of diesel required to power their trucks for the transportation of petroleum products nationwide. Diesel prices reportedly range between N1,250 to N1,400 per litre, depending on the location of purchase.

Yusuf Othman, President of NARTO, stated in a press release on Thursday that the association would suspend operations due to unsustainable losses incurred by its members. Despite efforts to solicit intervention from key stakeholders and government agencies, including the Chief of Staff to the President, Minister of Petroleum Resources, and Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, NARTO lamented the lack of response to their pleas.

NARTO emphasized the urgency of revising freight rates to reflect the current economic realities, citing stagnant rates maintained since the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari despite significant fluctuations in the exchange rate. Othman underscored the association’s determination to suspend operations unless favorable resolutions are reached in ongoing negotiations.

As the nation braces for potential disruptions in the supply of petroleum products, stakeholders remain hopeful that dialogue will yield viable solutions to address the concerns of NARTO members and avert further escalation of the situation.

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