Heightened frustrations arising from extortions and high-handedness of security agents led the Petroleum Tanker Drivers branch of National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, (PTD-NUPENG) to threaten a strike action.
In a press conference, these drivers described the problem as “illegal activities and high-handedness of security agents, particularly, the military task force operating in the Port Harcourt zone of the union.”
Speaking to reporters in Abuja, yesterday, National Chairman of PTD-NUPENG, Comrade Lucky Osesua, alleged that men of the task force burnt two trucks conveying HPFO, otherwise known as black oil, on Tuesday night, after the truck drivers were falsely accused of transporting crude oil.
According to Osesua, the trucks, which lifted the black oil at a modular refinery (Walter Smith Refinery and Petrochemical) in Ibigwe, Imo State, on Monday and Tuesday, were intercepted between Ahoada and Elele in Rivers State.
Osesua, who gave the number plates of the trucks as EFR 770 XA and AFZ 351 ZY, said they were conveying 40,000 liters each to Bob and Sea Depot, Koko Delta State.
He said the drivers were polite in their response and presented all necessary documents to the task force personnel. He added that the officers, however, ignored the documents, rebuffed appeals, and burnt the trucks.
The PTD-National Chairman, who displayed the documents to newsmen, said: “The drivers presented waybills, NUPENG receipts and quality control documents. But the military men still insisted that they were carrying crude oil! They drove the two trucks away and burnt them between Ahoada and Elele, in Rivers State, on Tuesday night.
“Without investigation, without reaching out to the refinery, where the drivers said they lifted the black oil, the soldiers burnt down the trucks, in less than five hours.”
Osesua, who also presented to journalists documents signed by Charles Okon, the refinery manager of Walter Smith Refinery and Petrochemical, said the union has taken a decision to stop lifting products at its Port Harcourt zone.
He said a similar decision to stop loading nationwide would be taken by Monday, except damages incurred as a result of the high-handedness of the task force were addressed.
He added: “Enough is enough about the high-handedness of our security agents. They should stop demonising our union and persecuting our men who are doing their normal business.
“We expect that in this modern world, trained security agents should be able to identify black oil, as against crude oil. We should not be at the receiving end of their ignorance.”