…Transport fares rise, motorists groan
Long queues have resurfaced in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital and its environs following the withdrawal of services by petrol tanker drivers in the protest of constant harassment by security operatives.
The situation has caused fuel scarcity in the state, just about five months after the nationwide scarcity occasioned by the importation of adulterated petrol by the Federal Government.
Our correspondent who went round town reports that most filling stations along Aba Road, Ikwerre Road and Airport Road are under lock while few stations are selling the product between N250 and N280 per litre.
Occasioned by the development, transport fares within the city have increased by 50 percent, as distance previously charged N100 by commercial drivers is now N150.
A motorist, Prince Chima said, “I was shocked to buy fuel this morning at N280 because I wanted to travel with my family. One don’t know what this country is turning into.”
Speaking, a student at the Rivers State University, Ibuchi said, “I didn’t go to school yesterday. But today, I paid N200 instead of the usual N150 from Water Lines to my school. The driver said he bought fuel at N180 per litre.”
Meanwhile, it was gathered that the scarcity of the product due to the refusal of Petrol Tanker Drivers, 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 will not resume operations until security agents stop the harassment.
Agwangwor explained that NUPENG directed PTD to withdraw their services, as unidentified persons in 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 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, their products are forcefully taken from them.
“We have written to all the security agencies involved, including the Rivers State Government and 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.”