The Petroleum Tanker Drivers, PTD, and National Association of Road Transport Owners, NARTO, on Tuesday embarked on an indefinite strike over alleged harassment of its members by personnel of the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS.
DAILY NIGERIAN gathered the tanker drivers shunned Kano depot, which supplies Kano, Katsina and Jigawa States, just as they boycotted Gusau depot, which supplies Zamfara, Sokoto and Kebbi States.
It was gathered that at least 150 loaded tankers are released daily by Kano depot alone.
A statement by Yusuf Othman, the national president of NARTO, said they embarked on the action due to “indiscriminate and illegal” arrest of loaded petroleum trucks in Kano, Kebbi, Katsina other northern states by Customs.
According to him, the arrest was in the guise of implementation of the ban on movement of petroleum products beyond 20 kilometers radius of the national borders.
“Unfortunately however, all evidences available to us indicate that these arrests are being made within the metropolis, especially the five trucks that were impounded in Kano areas, were carried out in areas that have more than 200 kilometers to any national borders,” Mr Othman said.
On his part, the chairman of the PTD, Sa’idu Al’amura, said the associations found it necessary to embark on the strike in order to express their concern over the alleged incessant harassment and arrest of their members while on their way to filling stations; even within Kano metropolis.
“Currently, there are five trucks impounded by the customs operatives for over one month,” he said in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria.
Mr Al’amura said the association had also directed its members in five other states in the Northwest to join the strike, until when the issues between them and the Customs Service is resolved.
He listed the affected states as Jigawa, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara.
The chairman said that during the strike no member of the association would transport Petroleum products to filling stations across the six states in the zone until their demands of releasing the impounded vehicles were met.
When contacted, the Public Relations Officer of Kano/Jigawa Customs Area Command, Danbaba Isah, confirmed that five tankers were impounded for alleged diversion of the petroleum products from Kano to Faggo town in Sandamu Local Government Area of Katsina state.
According to him, the product is supposed to be supplied to filling stations in Kano metropolis and Kura town in Kura Local Government Area of Kano State, but were found near Daura in Katsina State.
Mr Isah said after investigations one of the tankers was released, because it was transporting fuel to contractor who is handling a road project in Jigawa State.
He said four suspects were still in detention and would soon be charged to court after investigation.
“The drivers are aware of the recent order by the Federal Government that no fuel tanker should supply petroleum products 20 kilometres to border areas; that was why they were arrested and the vehicles impounded,” he said.
Meanwhile, residents of Kano have expressed fears over the strike by the PTD and NARTO.
A cross section of the residents told NAN in Kano on Tuesday that the strike action could cripple social and economic activities in the state if it continues.
One of the residents, Bashir Abdullahi, said the stand-off could bring back the era of fuel scarcity in the state and other neighbouring states.
They also called on the warring parties to ensure amicable resolution of the crisis to avert fuel scarcity in the state.