…Alleged extortion, corporal punishment
What would have resulted to another round of scarcity of petroleum products was averted last week by stakeholders hurriedly called for a truce in the face-off between tanker drivers and naval personnel who were drafted to maintain orderliness at the strategic petroleum products facilities at the Ibafon jetty n Apapa, Lagos.
Loading of products were temporarily put on hold by tanker drivers under he aegis of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) I protest against the bursting of the tires of some trucks by naval personnel for alleged illegal parking of trucks.
More than 10 trucks were said to have lost tires as naval officers allegedly used knives to slash the tires.
Industry sources confirmed to Shipping Position Weekly that the clash was triggered-off as a result of an order that was said to have been issued by the commanding officer (CO) of NNS Beecroft to the naval personnel whom he reportedly lampooned for non-performance.
The order reportedly came after the CO saw the high traffic which had spilled over from the service lane to the expressway which leads to Apapa. He was said to have subsequently asked his men to make the area free of traffic.
The officers at the jetty were alleged to have descended mercilessly on the tanker drivers by puncturing tires of at least 15 trucks valued at about N75, 000 each after which corporal punishments were meted out to the drivers.
This soldiers’ action made the zonal office of the tanker drivers to declare a strike action which led to a breakdown of activities at the various storage facilities located at the Ibafon-Ibru jetty.
Officials of the union who spoke with our correspondence shortly after the incident at the jetty alleged that “the navy officers requested for the sum of N50, 000 each for any of our trucks to load, only those that paid were allowed to go in and load products, some of our boys refuse to pay the money and they were seriously beaten and asked to be rolling in the gutters”.
“We are not the one that requested for the presence of the navy here, it is the management of the depots, for us, our VIO’s are capable of handling the traffic, let them leave us alone because they are causing us troubles”, embattled officials of NUPENG said on Friday.
However, after an emergency meeting that was convened by the various stakeholders and which was attended by three executives of the union, a compromise was reached so as avert what would have been yet another round of scarcity in the country.
The chairman of the stakeholders’ committee Mr. Geoffrey Okorie in a phone interview with our correspondent confirmed that an agreement have been reached to replace the 15 punctured tires while the tanker drivers representatives were advised to caution their men against further recklessness on the service lane.