- Nigeria’s gasoline pumps could go dry across the country after the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) threatened to stop products petroleum supply across the country.
The union’s threat comes amid the refusal by the management of Mobile Telecommunications (MTEL) and Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to pay close to N2 billion debt to their employers, especially B.B. King Oil (W.A.) Ltd.
The union said that Petroleum Tanker Drivers have not been paid their salaries for months because of the debt.
The union had suspended an earlier strike over the matter following the intervention by the country’s elites and including that of the Director-General of State Security Services (SSS).
The Unions statement said non payment of tanker drivers was further exacerbated by the constant pressure from other sub suppliers who had received bank guarantees through B.B. King Oil and the banks which were clamouring for a repayment of their loans with threats of taking over the company.
Meanwhile, NUPENG has called on the Federal Government to approach the controversial deregulation of the country's petroleum industry with caution.
President of the NUPENG, Peter Apattason said government must ensure that the four refineries were working at full capacity and that there should be a strong effort to encourage private individuals to build refineries before talking about deregulation.
"A deregulation that is not properly done will throw the nation into some difficulties because it will result in price increase which will create inflationary trend that will erode the already very low purchasing power of the common man,” he said.
In October, the Senate endorsed the Federal Government's planned deregulation of the oil industry, saying that it had become crucial to redress the looming problems in the petroleum sector.
The new Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) which has been under serious scrutiny, proposes that the oil industry would be substantially free from government control and run strictly as a business in a deregulated environment.
Government is also aiming at deriving more revenue from petroleum resources by increasing royalties and taxes payable by oil companies, in addition to giving host communities stakes in the ventures.
Mr Apattason said the union has no issues with deregulation, but the issue was how the government would ensure that workers and consumers are not visited with unnecessary hardship.
"We believe deregulation should be managed because there some cartels that are manipulating even the subsidy scheme now. If there is deregulation and those guys are still there, if the cartels are still there, then the situation will be worse for us," he told local newspaper.
Nigeria witnessed constant militancy on its oil installations that cut down the country's capacity by more than a quarter since 2006.
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