President Bola Tinubu

The rippling effects of the high costs of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) is continuing to take its toll on the Nigerian economy. Truck drivers under the aegis of Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) are set to suspend operations from Monday, February 19. They say they have been operating at a loss since President Ahmed Bola Tinubu assumed office in May 2023. Diaspora Digital Media (DDM), on Sunday, received the official notice of withdrawal of operations as signed by NARTO’s National President, Yusuf Lawal Othman. The notice of withdrawal of operations reads in part: “We are deeply constrained to seek the support and understanding of your Union and members towards the excruciating challenges Petroleum Trucks Owners are facing with the high operational costs in the industry. “As you are already aware of several efforts we have made to secure negotiations for appropriate and commensurate Freight rates for our operations from all conceivable authorities concerned in the Industry, most especially the Major Energy Marketers Association of Nigeria but which have received no positive responses from them. “We have no other options but write to inform you that the NARTO National Executive Council (NEC) has resolved to direct all our members not to make their Petroleum Trucks available for Petroleum Products loading activities with effect from Monday, 19th day of February 2024.” The statement implored members to abide with the union’s directive: “In the light of this directive, we implore all our employees (Petroleum Truck Drivers), who are your members to show maximum cooperation, support and understanding to achieve our collective efforts for continued sustainability of the Petroleum Haulage business. “There is definitely no way we can continue in this business within the context of the current economic situation in the country,” it added. NARTO national president, in a previous chat with newsmen, had alleged that “the association has written letters to table the plight of unbearable cost of operation to the chief of staff to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu; minister of Petroleum Resources; director general, Department of State Services (DSS); Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) chief executive officer; Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) group chief executive officer; and the marketers” but got no feedback. Analysing the market situation, which the members have endured for several months, he recalled that the same freight rate that was in force while President Muhammadu Buhari was in government is still subsisting. He said: “Everybody is aware that all our consumables in terms of operation are not produced in the country. “So, by virtue of the rate of dollars, every consumable has increased. But the freight they are paying us has been the same even during Buhari’s time. “So how is that feasible? During Buhari’s time, the dollar was 650 Naira. Today, the dollar is now N1,615. The average freight from Lagos to Abuja is 32 Naira” He continued: “What I mean by local, you load Lagos, you discharge in Lagos. And bridging, you load from Lagos, you come to Abuja. Lagos to Lagos, we are paid 120,000 Naira. “AGO alone to distribute fuel within Lagos is 140,000 Naira because it is 1,400 Naira per litre.

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