By Nsan Ndoma-Neji
Tanker drivers in Calabar, Cross River State have taken to the streets to err their displeasure over the imprisonment of over 40 colleagues.
The drivers under the umbrella of the Petroleum Tankers Drivers Association, PTD, during their demonstration on Monday at the NNPC Depot Tank Farm in Esuk Utan, said their members are being imprisoned across the country.
Addressing the press during the peaceful demonstration, Comrade Ibrahim Osa, Spokesperson of PTD Association, Cross River State branch), alongside Abdullahi Adamu, said the detainees face diverse allegations, including accidents and incomplete documentation such as weigh bills.
Osa who condemned what they described as the imposition of PTD executives, raised grievances against the alleged neglect and lack of intervention in the cases of their incarcerated members.
He said: “Over 40 of our members are suffering in prison without anyone coming to their rescue or attempting to intervene in their cases. Drivers are facing hardships, and NUPENG cannot appoint a Chairman for us.”
The PTD representatives accused some Nigeria Union Of Petroleum And Natural Gas, NUPENG leaders of purportedly imposing individuals unrelated to tanker driving as chairmen.
They voiced their discontent, stressing the need for transparent elections and resistance against the imposition of non-driver individuals into leadership positions.
The association claimed that NUPENG’s leadership was allegedly imposing farmers and carpenters onto their electoral processes, individuals who, according to PTD, lack relevance to the tanker-driving sector.
“NUPENG are cheating us. We used to do elections in the past, now election period has come, Afolabi and co want to impose non-driver on us as Chairman.
“As drivers, we have driven with nothing to show. NUPENG show allow us to conduct our elections”, the duo stated.
The PTD representatives expressed interest in joining the National Association of Road Transport Owners, NATO, stressing the necessity for proper insurance coverage for their members who have worked without such protections.
In response to the protest, Mr Peter Joshua, representing the National Union of Petroleum and Gas Workers of Nigeria, NUPENG, denied awareness of any demonstrations in Calabar.
He refuted allegations of oppressive measures against the PTD members, dismissing claims of NUPENG’s involvement in such actions.
The situation highlights a significant standoff within the petroleum sector, underscoring the need for transparent leadership elections and addressing the reported incarceration of tanker drivers across the country.