Even as the nation is still battling with the effect of last week’s strike by tanker drivers, a cross section of operators in the nation’s oil and gas sector have blamed the duo of government and one of their own; MRS Oil and Gas for the face-off.
Shipping Position Weekly sought to know from the operators why the situation degenerated into a breakdown of law and order which eventually snowballed into a strike by the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and majority of those who volunteered opinion wondered why it has always been difficult for the Lagos state government to enforce its law when it concerns tanker drivers.
Even though majority of those who spoke pleaded anonymity, some pointedly condemned MRS Oil and Gas for citing its holding bay on the expressway, saying that it was too close to traffic.
For instance, the depot manager of Capital Oil and Gas, Mr Godfrey Okorie wondered why tankers have refused to use the holding bay in Orile Iganmu which is very close to Apapa. “Government spent a huge sum of money to develop the park at Orile, how many trucks park there, the truck drivers only use the Orile parking space to avoid been arrested by law enforcement officials, they will always tell you that they have a space at Orile, but they don’t stay there., he alleged.
Insisting that the location of the holding bay at the Oshodi end of the Apapa – Oshodi expressway is bad, he stated that the law enforcement agents should ensure compliance. According to him, until government enforces the usage of the park at Orile, the problem will continue.
He also accused members of the inter- agency task force on decongestion of access roads leading to Apapa of compromising in the discharge of their duties. “They collect money from tanker drivers and that is why it is always difficult to ensure compliance and when you have collected bribe, you have sold your conscience”, he added, even as he alleged further that officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authourity (LASTMA) of also collecting bribe form the tanker drivers.
According to him, it was because they did not collect was offered them that they were able to seize those trucks, because he added if they had collected, there would not have been any noise about they goings on a t the new holding bay belonging to MRS.
Similarly, another officials of another oil and gas company, Mr Iheanacho Uzouchukwu raised alarm that even though the strike had been called off, the same action could be repeated, because in his opinion, all the factors are still there.
Government will also need to caution officials of implementing agencies on the manner in which they go about their businesses, he advised saying that it is improper to apply the law with too much of discretion on the part of the officials.
He said it would be wrong to blame the tanker drivers entirely for the strike, saying that they needed to always draw attention to their plight, knowing that their action can cripple the economy of the nation.
He was apparently corroborating what the zonal secretary, NUPENG, Mr Tokunb Korodo said recently. Speaking the minds of the drivers, the secretary of NUPENG had told Shipping Position Weekly that the act of indiscriminate parking was aimed at forcing the Lagos state government to pay attention to the drivers.
Mr Korodo had told our correspondent that “the idea of our members packing on the service lane at Apapa was deliberate; we do this in order to draw the attention of the government to the issue”.
Korodo however lamented that in giving approval of tank farms operations in Lagos, no provision was made for parking space for trucks that will be coming to load products at the terminals.