The ongoing strike by the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) on Friday reduced loading activities at depots in Apapa, Lagos, raising the prospects of another round of supply challenges especially outside the South-West,Saturday PUNCH gathered.
Loading at Apapa depots, where many marketers load petroleum products to other states, was hampered by the non-availability of oil workers to certify marketers’ bridging claims, one of our correspondents learnt.
A source, who is an official of an independent marketing company in Lagos, told Saturday PUNCH that the strike had started affecting operations at the Apapa depots.
The source said, “All bridging vehicles were not certified. So, no marketer was willing to load any area outside South-West that has to do with getting bridging claims. They said they could not forfeit their bridging claims because the Petroleum Equalisation Fund workers were not available to certify them.
“What we did today (Friday) was just what we call local loading – loading within South-West. The implication is that loading has reduced. For example, in our depot, I am not sure we did up to 20 trucks of petrol today, compared to 80 to 100 trucks that we do sometimes in a day.”
Stating that the strike would affect fuel supply, the source said, “People outside Lagos might start noticing it by Sunday. It might not affect Lagos. But outside South-West, the effect may be much anytime from Sunday.”
Meanwhile, fuel queues were already resurfacing gradually in some filling stations in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. One of our correspondents observed that motorists formed long queues in front of the two filling stations, Conoil and Total, located opposite the towers housing the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
In the city centre, it was observed that most of the stations were open for business, but they still had queues, as motorists rushed to fill up their tanks.
PENGASSAN, which embarked on the nationwide strike on Thursday, had said it would begin a gradual withdrawal of its members from oil and gas fields and platforms by next week.
A statement by the association’s National Public Relations Officer, Mr. Emmanuel Ojugbana, on Friday noted that there was total compliance by their members to the directive to embark on an indefinite strike. He said the strike was not only about the members of the association but also about the survival of the nation’s oil and gas industry.
But the new Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mr. Maikanti Baru, assured that the corporation would ensure that the country does not face another round of petrol scarcity.
Baru and the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, told journalists in Abuja that they met with members of the oil union on Friday in a bid to end the strike, expressing hopes that the strike would be called off and would not cause scarcity.
On his part, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, appealed to the union to suspend the strike so as not to deepen the poor state of the economy, while expressing optimism that the issue would be resolved on Monday.