·       Uzodinma should settle with tanker drivers

The blame for the perennial scarcity of premium motor spirit (PMS) that has wrecked havoc on the economy and subjected residents of Imo state to untold hardship and stress has been heaped at the door step of the governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma and his administration for their inability to handle the  situation by reaching an effective compromise with tanker drivers whose refusal to deliver the product to fuel stations  in the state is the cause of the lingering crises.

Investigation by this reporter reveals that tanker drivers in the state are not on strike. The problem is that the product they are supposed to market has been unavailable in the past five weeks, when the state was blacklisted by tanker drivers who have an unresolved issue with the state government.

The Public Relations Officer of Imo State Petroleum Marketers Association, Chief Acho Ehirim in a chat with this reporter said, “petroleum marketers in Imo state are not on strike. The problem is that tanker drivers, who are supposed to bring the product to Imo state now stop at Umuagwo, in Ohaji/Egbema LGA,  Ngor Okpalla or Ihialla, in Anambra state depending on where they are coming from.

He further stated that they are doing so because of the directive by their union in solidarity with one of the members who got a judgment which the state government refused to obey.

“When this issue started, we informed the Chief of staff, Imo state government house, Chief Nnamdi Anyaehie who said he was not aware of the development. He promised to make enquiries and get back to us. This was on a Wednesday. We waited uptill Sunday without hearing from him. Then on Monday, we formally wrote a letter to the government informing them about the danger involved in allowing hundreds of trucks loaded with fuel to be parked within the precincts of border communities like Umuagwo, Ngor Okpalla etc. We implored the state government to do whatever it could to resolve the matter to avoid imminent danger and the unpleasant consequences but they ignored our advice.”

He blamed the state government for not doing enough to avert the crises right from the onset.

“For instance, government held a meeting with tanker drivers who narrated their grievances, the representatives of the state government, at a time excused themselves and went into closed door meeting, after which they requested to be given 2 weeks to address the situation and the strike was suspended. Regrettably, less them 24 hours later, the governor was quoted as telling Imolites to ignore the tanker drivers and source  fuel from neighbouring towns in Abia and Anambra States. This aggravated the situation as the strike was extended beyond Imo to other South east states.”

Responding to a question, Chief Acho Ehirim stated that the judgment sum of the injunction secured by the tanker driver who his colleagues aligned with is N100m. On whether the state government should sanction fuel stations that refuse to sell to the public, he said, “they should first find out if the outlets still have the product or not. He also posited that the union has no issue if those selling above pump price are caught and dealt with”.