Residents of Rivers state have been plunged into excruciating hardship as a result of fuel scarcity hitting the state.
The scarcity, which built up from Monday at the state capital, Port Harcourt, is crippling socio-economic activities across the state and neighbouring states, including Abia, Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa.
Blueprint went round the state capital, Tuesday to Wednesday, and witnessed long queues at few filling stations where the product is being sold at N200 per litre while some black marketers are selling for at N400 per litre, above official pump price.
Blueprint reports that the situation is affecting transport fair as transporters have hiked their prices at 100% while traders of food commodities and other consumables have increased their prices.
Our correspondent gathered from the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) secretariat, Alasa Eleme, Rivers state that the core cause of the scarcity is as a result of indefinite strike embarked upon by the petroleum tanker drives (PTD) Union of NUPENG.
Efforts to extract reactions from IPMAN chairman, Comrade Georgewill on the development proved abortive as he was neither on seat nor was anybody found at the secretariat to make comment on the development.
Also, the PTD chairman, Chief John Bosco, could not be reached except his vice chairman who did not disclose his name but said he had no authority to speak on behalf of the union.
However, an independent source and staff of NUPENG disclosed to our correspondent that the strike was as a result of what he termed ‘intolerable attitude’ of Rivers state government Task Force on Petroleum Products Monitoring Team.
According to the source, who pleaded anonymity, the tankers drivers have been suffering attacks in the hands of the Task Force’s military officials who seize their trucks and products when on delivery mission.
According to him, the Task Force recently seized a truck loaded with petroleum (PMS) which they suspected to be adulterated but later confirmed to be genuine.
“The Task Force seized the truck and parked it in their location but after caring out quality test, the product proved genuine but they later released the tanker without the content.
“The authority of the Task Force could not account for the product and the issue generated controversy between IPMAN and the government that eventually led to the taker drivers strike”, our source disclosed.
According to the source, “until the state government calls the Taskforce to order to act responsibly in the cause of their duty, the public would continue to be at the receiving end.”