Long queues resurfaced in Port Harcourt and its environs on Wednesday, following the withdrawal of services by petrol tanker drivers in protest of constant harassment by security operatives
The situation caused acute fuel crunch in the state, about five months after the nationwide scarcity occasioned by the importation of adulterated petrol by the Federal Government.
Our correspondent who went round town witnessed that most filling stations along Aba Road, Ikwerre Road and Airport Road were under lock and key, while few stations sold the product between N250 and N280 per litre.
Following the scarcity, transport fares within the city increased by 50 per cent, as distance previously charged N100 by commercial drivers went up to N150.
A motorist, Prince Chima said, “I was shocked to buy fuel this morning at N280 because I wanted to travel with my family. It is difficult to know what this country is turning into.”
Also speaking, a student at the Rivers State University, Ibuchi said,” I didn’t go to school on Tuesday. But today (Wednesday), I paid N200 instead of the usual N150 from Waterlines to my school. The driver said he bought fuel at N180 per litre.”
Meanwhile, it was gathered that the scarcity of the product was due to the refusal of Petrol Tanker Drivers, PTD, a branch of the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, to load products at the depot, in protest against incessant harassment by security operatives.
The National Treasurer of NUPENG, Alex Agwangwor, said petrol tanker drivers would not resume operations until security agents stopped the harassment.
Agwangwor explained that NUPENG directed PTD to withdraw their services, as unidentified persons in the company of armed security operatives kept extorting money from tanker drivers at the depot.
He said,” “The challenge we have in the state now currently as a union is that tanker drivers, under the PTD branch of NUPENG, are being constantly harassed by security agents.
“In some cases, the tanker drivers are arrested on trump-up charges, and their products are forcefully taken from them.
“We have written to all the security agencies involved, including the Rivers State Government, but, honestly, we cannot continue to work to service the state when our members’ lives are in danger.
“Without this issue being addressed, I don’t think we will continue to load products in Rivers State.”