NARTO Suspends Strike As FG Wades Into Issues

Normalcy has returned to the disrupted fuel distribution chain across the country as the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Workers (NARTO) suspended its two days industrial action after an exhaustive dialogue with the Federal Government.

Rising from the marathon meeting with NARTO, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), and Petroleum Tankers Drivers (PTD), on Tuesday, February 20, 2024, in Abuja, the Minister of Petroleum Resources (Oil), Sen. Heineken Lokpobiri announced that the strike action has been successfully called off.

TheFact Daily reports that NARTO had directed its members to withdraw their petroleum trucks from product loading effective Monday, February 19, 2024, over high freight charges.

NARTO in a strike notice on Friday, February 15, 2024, revealed that several efforts were made to secure negotiations for appropriate and commensurate freight rates for its operations from considerable authorities concerned, most especially, the Major Energy Marketers Association of Nigeria but received no positive response from them.

Consequently, directed all its members not to make Petroleum Trucks Available for petroleum products loading activities.

However, the Minister disclosed that all the pertinent issues raised during the meeting were diligently addressed, ensuring a mutually beneficial resolution. Reiterating that while the matter stemmed from commercial concerns, government intervention was necessary to avert impending hardship on the populace.

He assured an anticipated conclusion of all reconciliation processes within the next four weeks.

While commending the leadership of NARTO for its patriotism and commitment to the resolution, the Minister assured of a sustained engagement, mirroring the government approach with other sector stakeholders to ensure seamless operations for all.

Addressing newsmen shortly after the meeting, the National President of NARTO, Yusuf Lawal said, some progress had been made at the meeting therefore, the association has called off the strike.

Lawal noted that “the meeting has nothing to do with the pump price. Our agitation is with regards to the freight rate for the transportation of the fuel to stations across the country”.

He said, although the rates agreed at the meeting were not what was expected, however, going forward, there would be negotiation with the marketing companies based on market realities.

Asked about the figures agreed as new rates, the NARTO President said, “the new rate was not given to us in figures, but we know there are some improvements into the rates. I believe before the end of the week, we should have it handy, but as for now in this meeting, we have not received the figures.

“Our message to our members is that we should appreciate, even though we did not get what we want 100 percent, but at least there is improvement and they should look at the pains of Nigerians and go back to work”, he added.

Also speaking, the Authority Chief Executive, Nigerian Mainstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), Engr, Farouk Ahmed said, NARTO complained of high operational costs. High cost of diesel to fuel their trucks.

Engr. Ahmed explained that the last time when the freight rates were increased was during the subsidy regime in 2022, but that time the price of diesel was N700 per litre, but now the price of diesel is N1,400 per litre, so they are advocating for increase, but the marketers they are servicing are reluctant to negotiate a higher increase, so that led to the strike action.

He, however, expressed joy that the issue has been resolved after meeting with the Minister, disclosing that the negotiation would continue with marketing companies to reflect the current realities.

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