PENGASSAN Suspends Strike, Asks Members to Resume Duty

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PENGASSAN, it has been gathered, has agreed to end the strike on Monday after the intervention of the Department of State Services, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, and Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu.

PENGASSAN had directed its members across the country to shut down operations from Monday, a development that worsened the chaotic situation in many filling stations in different parts of the country.

The association’s Public Relations Officer, Fortune Obi, told one of our correspondents that the union had to suspend the strike after it reached an amicable resolution with the management of Neconde Energy Limited.

PENGASSAN and Neconde had been embroiled in a crisis over allegation of anti-worker practices by the firm.

The union had alleged that the management of Neconde wrongly terminated the employment of some of its workers, and threatened to go on strike if the sacked workers were not recalled within 72 hours.

But Obi stated that the oil firm had agreed to meet the demands of the union, adding that the labour minister and the association agreed to work together to resolve alleged anti-union posture by other indigenous companies and marginal field operators.

Meanwhile, the NNPC spokesperson, Ndu Ughamadu, stated that relevant government agencies were consulted by the industry unions to arrive at an amicable resolution of issues over which there were threats of industrial action.

The corporation warned marketers not to hoard products as law enforcement agencies, working with industry regulators, had been detailed to take appropriate measures against any defaulter.

Meanwhile, the Department of Petroleum Resources on Monday sealed two filling stations in Abeokuta, Ogun State, for hoarding and under-dispensing petrol.

The DPR officials led by the Head of Operations, Abeokuta Field Office, Kasali Akinade, sealed World Oil filling station in Ibara over alleged hoarding, while a fuel pump at the MAAN IPC, Ita-Eko, was equally shut.

The DPR officials, who were accompanied by the operatives of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, discovered that the World Oil attendants were not dispensing petrol.

The DPR team asked them why they were not dispensing the product, and they answered that the filling station had no product in its tanks.

Akinade, however, asked them to open the underground tanks to ascertain the attendants’ claim. But the attendants said they could not open any of the tanks, because the manager was not around.

Suspecting that the attendants were pranking, Akinade ordered the sealing of the filling station.

When the team arrived at the MAAN IPC filling station, the attendants too were not dispensing fuel to motorists.

But when the underground tank was checked by the DPR team, it was discovered that 4,000 litres of PMS were hoarded in the tank.

Akinade instantly ordered the attendants to start dispensing the product. While dispensing, the team discovered that one of the pumps was under-dispensing and the DPR official ordered that it be shut down.

The team later visited another filling station, Arolat, at Olomore, but the filling station did not have petrol in stock.

Akinade later told reporters that the DPR officials embarked on the inspection following a tip-off that some filling stations were hoarding the product.

He wondered why some independent oil marketers, who own filling stations, were hell-bent on creating artificial scarcity of petrol.

Akinade urged members of the public to report sharp practices of filling station owners to the DPR’s office.

He said, “We got a tip-off that some filling stations were hoarding fuel and this is against the government’s policy. Once the product is there, you ought to be selling. Some of them want to create artificial scarcity and that is not too good. This government has zero tolerance for such act of indiscipline.

“Those filling stations that have been sealed ran afoul of the law, because some of them are under-dispensing, which means they are cheating the public. Every 10 litres that people buy, they are being short-changed by one litre. And some of them have fuel and they are not selling.

“So, those that are sealed, until they are fined and penalised, they will not be reopened. My message to the public is this: I want to implore them to give us information. We are not spirit, we cannot be everywhere at the same time.

“They should give us information about any filling station selling above the pump price. Come to our office at Ibara Housing Estate, Abeokuta. What we are doing is in the interest of the public.”

The Punch

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