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Fuel Subsidy

NARTO suspends planned nationwide strike

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The members of NARTO, the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners, have decided to end their strike after the Federal Government agreed to pay the outstanding bridging claims for transporting petrol all over the country.

The tanker owners went on strike on Monday because they were fed up with the high cost of operations and the government’s failure to implement a new freight rate for transporting petrol.

Fuel scarcity: NARTO suspends planned nationwide strike
A tanker truck

Speaking after a marathon meeting with NARTO, oil marketers and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, NMDPRA, the Minister of State Petroleum Resources (Oil), Senator Heineken Lokpobiri said all outstanding bridging claims would be verified and paid by the government.

Lokpobiri stated that while most of the issues raised by the transporters were commercial in nature, the Federal Government has stepped in to ensure that solutions were found and the lifting of products resumed.

He said: “I want to announce to Nigerians that after consultations with all stakeholders, we have come to a conclusion that the strike will be called off. All the issues they raised have been addressed and I have also given commitments on behalf of the government that going forward the government will do what it is expected to do.

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“We have given our commitment and we have started paying some of the bridging claims. We have also committed that in the next four weeks maximum by the middle of next month we would have done with the reconciliation so that those that are owing will pay up”.

He said the oil marketers and NNPC Limited will continue to engage with the stakeholders to ensure the supply of petrol across the country.

Confirming the agreement, NARTO National President, Alhaji Yusuf Lawal Othman said an agreement has been reached with the government and oil marketers that includes improvement in freight rate from the current N32 per litre.

While he declined to disclose what the new rate is, he assured that the current pump price of petrol would adequately accommodate the new rate.

“This has no relation with the pump price. Our agitation is as regards the freight rate, for the transportation of petrol. In any case you have to transport the fuel before you sell it and if the amount they are paying is not adequate to move the product to the stations, you will not see it to buy.

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“There has been some movement even though it is not what we expected but at least we have made some movement. Going forward we will continue to negotiate with the marking companies based on economic realities”.

Also speaking, the Chief Executive, NMDPRA, Engr. Farouk Ahmed explained that the last freight rate review was done in March 2022 during the petrol subsidy regime when the cost of diesel was N700 per litre but has now rosen to N1,400.

Ahmed explained that with the full deregulation of the downstream sector, the government was no longer in the position determine freight rate in the industry.

“NARTO members were requesting for increase but as a regulator, NMDPRA, we said we were not going to enforce any price increase because the market is deregulated. Therefore we asked them to meet with the marketers that they service to negotiate on one on one basis. The marketers were reluctant to increase the rate and that led to the strike action.

“We thank God that after negotiations yesterday and today (Monday and Tuesday) they arrived at a conclusion. Some of them have agreed on rates like the NNPC, Total but there are a few other left and negotiations are continuing”, he added.

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