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Oil Marketers Mum As NARTO Threatens Strike Over Rising Operational Costs

President of the Association said its members could no longer meet up with product delivery as operational costs currently outweigh earnings.


A file photo of tanker drivers

 

Oil marketers have declined comments over strike actions threatened by petrol tanker drivers over rising operational costs.

The Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners had on Thursday, threatened to embark on a nationwide strike over what they described as high operational costs engineered by rising inflation rates in the country.

NARTO is the umbrella body of all commercial transport owners and operators in Nigeria that are engaged in the business of moving goods, passengers and petroleum products from one place to another throughout the country and in the West African sub-region.

While speaking with Channels Television on Friday, President of the Association, Yusuf Othman, said his members could no longer meet up with the delivery of petroleum products as operational costs currently outweigh earnings.

He explained that what marketers currently pay NARTO members to load and deliver one truck of 40, 000 litres of petroleum product is N1,320 per trip, while actual expenses sit at N1,285,000 per trip.

“We are going on with the strike on Monday because our operational costs have surpassed what marketers are paying us,” he said.

According to him; although there is already an ongoing discussion between oil marketers and the Association, however, both parties are yet to come to a concrete resolution.

“Government is no longer in charge of the market. Everything is now in the hands of private hands. Although we have been speaking with oil marketers, discussions are too slow. And for there to be progress; there has to be some sort of arbitration between the marketers and transporters,” he said.

“The cost of tyre has gone up from N75, 000 to N250, 000. Battery has gone from 25,000 to N125, 000. Engine oil from 30,000 per keg to N70, 000, and Diesel has moved from N1, 100 to N1, 350,” he said, adding that the strike would be nationwide.

“The Lagos to Abuja freight rate that was implemented when the dollar was N650 is still retained now that the dollar is N1,615. Everybody is aware that all our consumables in terms of operation are not produced in the country.

“So, by the rate of dollars, every consumable has increased. But the freight they are paying us has been the same since Buhari’s time. So how is that feasible?
“During Buhari’s time, one dollar was N650. Today, a dollar is N1,615. The average freight from Lagos to Abuja is N32,” he stated.

Othman further explained that “what I mean by local is that when you load in Lagos, you discharge in Lagos. And bridging means that when you load from Lagos, you come to Abuja. Lagos to Lagos, we are paid N120,000.

“AGO (diesel) alone to distribute fuel within Lagos is N140,000 because it is N1,400/litre. So, they give you N120,000 and you spend N140,000. So how do you want to operate? You’ve not talked about the cost of vehicles, cost of loading, driver’s allowance. That is for local.”

He stated that the cost of moving products out of Lagos or Warri to other states was far higher than what the government was paying to tanker drivers as bridging claims.

The government pays an agreed sum to transporters of petroleum products as bridging claims to ensure equality in the pump prices of these products across states, though this has not been the case.

The development comes on the heels of a report by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics; that inflation has gone from about 28 per cent in December to 29.90 per cent in January.

Channels Television contacted the National Controller Operations, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mike Osatuyi.

Osatuyi however declined responding to enquiries on what oil marketers are currently doing to enhance talks with the drivers and to stem the tide of looming fuel scarcity which could arise as a result of nationwide strike actions being threatened by the drivers.