Oredola Adeola

Business and commercial activities were paralyzed in Lagos and other parts of the country on Monday due to the ongoing fuel scarcity.

Prominent banks were forced to close shops by 1pm instead of 4pm due to lack of diesel to run generators while text messages were sent to customers to bear with the situation.

Vehicular traffic was very low on major highways across Lagos and Ogun States as commuters waited endlessly at motor parks to get to their various destinations.

Almost all the filling stations in the metropolis did not open, except Capital Oil where there was a huge crowd of people waiting to buy fuel.

Our correspondent who monitored the situation gathered that the scarcity was heightened because the NUPENG arm of the oil workers had joined in the strike as a form of solidarity to their counterparts in the upstream sector.

It will be recalled that the oil workers had been calling for the reversal of the operatorship of the Oil Mining Lease (OMLs) 42 and 40 to Neconde and Elcrest respectively.

At present the scarcity had spread to hike in the prices of other petroleum products, which including Diesel and Kerosene across the country.

Speaking to our correspondent, Mangers of the filling Stations visited said that their tankers had not been loading due to the industrial actions embarked upon by both NUPENG and PENGASSAN.

However, in a statement signed by Group General Manager, Public Affairs, Department of the NNPC to Mr. Ohi Alegbe, on the scarcity the corporation described the action of the workers as baseless.

According to the statement, the process of ceding the operatorship right to Neconde (OML 42) and Elcrest (OML 40) followed industry best practices as obtainable all over the world.

It said ‘‘For much of the last three years, Neconde and Elcrest, along with First Hydrocarbon Limited, Shoreline Resources and ND Western, who bought similar stakes in OMLs 26, 30 and 34 between 2011 and 2012, have lamented NPDC’s lack of capacity to continue as the operator of the acreages they purchased from the Shell-led consortium.

Confirming the industrial action, Comrade Bayo Olowoshile, PENGASSAN, General Secretary told Hallmark that, the Union was bothered about the attitude of the government to the ongoing strike action by the oil workers.

“The strike has affected all our members operating within the value chains of the industry. We deeply regret the economic impact of the entire crisis on Nigerians and we are making sure that all parties involved are consulted in order to reach a agreement that would reduce the pains on Nigerians. It is however unfortunate that we are dealing with a government that is not willing to listen to the plight of workers. We have never been consulted for a dialogue s for sometimes now they have been silent,” he said.

Commenting, the Executive Secretary of NUPENG, Comrade Isaac Aberare said that the workers at the downstream sectors were incapacitated because some of their members were affected by the crisis in the upstream sector. “They have also joined the strike because the government has refused to show concern to the plight of the oil workers,” he stated.