Nigerian tanker drivers halt delivery over ‘army abuse’

LAGOS — Nigerian tanker drivers have halted the supply of petrol nationwide in protest at alleged maltreatment and killing of their members by the military, union leaders said Tuesday.

“We ordered our members to stop loading petrol from the depots since yesterday and it will be like that for the next six days,” Tokunbo Korodo, a union leader with the blue-collar National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, told AFP.

He said the seven-day strike, which has led to long queues of motorists at petrol stations in Lagos and other parts of the country, was called at the expiration of an ultimatum asking government to look into grievances raised by the union.

“We have had three unpleasant cases of maltreatment and harassment of our member by soldiers in the past few weeks. In Jos, for instance, a driver was shot dead by an army officer who also impounded his truck,” he said.

He claimed that another driver “was beaten mercilessly” by a soldier who also seized his vehicle in the city of Ibadan town near Lagos, while in the oil hub of Port Harcourt a driver was “malhandled by a security agent because of a minor traffic offence.”

“The strike becomes necessary as the last resort because series of complaints we filed with relevant authorities for intervention on the matter have fallen on deaf ears,” truck drivers’ leader Dayyabu Gargai told AFP in the northern city of Kano.

Korodo said the strike will be suspended only if the government compensates the family of the shot driver and recover the two trucks seized by the soldiers.

A meeting was due to take place between union leaders and the labour minister on Tuesday.

In Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation with 159 million people and the world’s eight largest oil exporter, petroleum products are mostly delivered by truck drivers.

In August, the drivers suspended fuel distribution to the capital Abuja in protest at the state of the country’s roads.

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