Business and commercial activities are at the lowest ebb at the moment in Imo State following the strike action embarked by petroleum products marketers and associated unions in the state.
There is scarcity of petroleum products which has encumbered all other activities in the state since Tuesday.
Trumpeta learnt that Fuel Marketers and other unions like Petroleum and Natural Gas Association, PENGASEN decided to stop operations in Imo State over refusal of the state government to obey a court order in the state.
Following the demolition of a fuel station by the Rochas Okorocha administration years ago, the operator who is a union member of the fuel operators got a judgment against the state government and the order is yet to be obeyed.
Apparently piqued by the refusal of the state to comply to the order overtime, the operators went on strike to shut down supplies to the state.
This newspaper noticed that petroleum products tankers since last weekend started assembling at Umuagwo, the border town to Rivers State ahead the strike. As at the time of this report, not less than 250 tankers are parked on the road without movement.
However, the state government has condemned the strike opting to meet with the affected union leaders today.
Information Commissioner, Hon Declan Mbadiwe Emelumba who told Trumpeta on phone that the state will meet with the leadership of the marketers today in a statement further states; “Imo state government is aware of the plan by petroleum marketers in the state to embark upon a strike action from tomorrow, Tuesday, August 24, 2021.
“Their grouse is an alleged refusal of the state government to obey a court judgment on payment of compensation to their member whose filling station at Orlu was demolished by the Rochas Okorocha’s administration.
“However, the government has reasons to believe that there is more to the planned Strike than meets the eye. First the judgment itself was hidden from the current administration and no effort was made to dialogue with the government by the aggrieved member. Inspite of this, when the government found out about the judgment, it responded appropriately as a law abiding government by proceeding on appeal.
“Secondly and curiously, the petroleum marketers have made desperate efforts to hoodwink tanker drivers to stop the supply of petroleum products to the state by midnight of Monday August 23rd,obviously using the influence of the affected member who was once a tanker driver himself. Why should the marketers succumb to involving Petroleum and Natural Gas Association of Nigeria (PENGASAN), in a local affair that has nothing to do with that association? This clearly suggests that there are other motives behind the planned strike. The petroleum marketers must therefore be mindful of being dragged into a strike they do not know its full motive.
“Since the matter is still in court, it amounts to self help for petroleum marketers to embark on a strike which in the eyes of the law is totally illegal.
“Having submitted himself to the rule of law, the affected person ought to wait for the ruling of the higher court before proceeding on any further action.
“It therefore goes without saying that the planned strike action by petroleum marketers in Imo state is prejudicial to the extant case and therefore subjudice.
“Government is not unmindful of the consequential effects of such an illegal action on the state economy and on innocent residents of the state.
“While the Government has the responsibility to ensure the maintenance of law and order, it regrets to note that the planned strike in this volatile security situation in the country is ill advised, more so when it is glaring that it is an affront to the law.
“However, as a law abiding Government, this administration is assuring the petroleum marketers that it will abide by any decision of the highest court when the matter is fully determined.
“Since the affected owner of the demolished filling station is yet to exhaust all legal options available and since there exists a pendancy of appeal on the matter, any strike in whatever form and by whosoever named remains illegal and will be treated as such.
“Finally, Government hereby advises those planning the strike to respect the law in the interest of peace and economic well being of the people”
Meanwhile, consequent upon speculations that fuel stations in Imo State will close shops yesterday, commuters , especially, civil servants, had it rough Wednesday morning going to their offices.
Our Editorial crew adviser, Innocent Osuoha reports that, apart from total closure of fuel stations, those who managed to open quickly adjusted their meters on the high side, howbeit, not in unison.
Some people who could not endure the long queues at the stations had no other option than to patronize black marketers who now sell a liter for four hundred naira.
At Rano petrol station along Owerri/Onitsha road where sales are on at normal rate, an unprecedented long queue was seen as vehicle owners wait patiently for turns.
At Ama JK Owerri fares rose immediately. From Owerri to Okwelle which hitherto was four hundred naira as at Wednesday morning was five hundred naira.
Owerri to Amaraku previously two hundred naira is now three hundred naira. Some drivers who spoke to Trumpeta said the state of the bad road might force them to review the fares a little upwards.
They said apart from petrol wahala, the bad road destroy their cars to a point that they visit the mechanics on daily basis.
With the situation on ground now, it is not certain the next line of action IPMAN Imo State will take.