Breaking: Nationwide fuel, food scarcity looms
By Ummi Ismaeel,
The President, National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Mallam Kashim Ibrahim, has raised fears of possible scarcity of petroleum products across Nigeria due to the collapse of Tatabu and Teggina bridges in Niger State.
The two bridges linking South-West to the northern part of the country cut at Tatabu and Teggina on June 4 and 11, respectively, after a heavy downpour and efforts to fix them or to provide alternative routes are yet to yield the desired result thereby causing long traffic jam on both sides of the bridges.
The NARTO president spoke at Tatabu village in Mokwa council of Niger State, when the Acting President, Prof. Yomi Osibanjo, visited for an on-the-spot assessment of the collapsed bridges on Monday.
Kashim said that the ultimatum given for tanker drivers to deliver fuel and other products to parts of the country had been seriously hampered by the deplorable condition of Nigerian roads which had been further compounded by the broken down bridges.
The NARTO president told Osibanjo: “The 10 days ultimatum given to all tanker drivers to deliver petroleum products by the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) to points of destination cannot be actualised with the situation we found ourselves”.
Responding to questions after inspecting work at Tatabu, the collapsed bridge site, the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osibanjo, while collaborating the NARTO president said that the ultimatum given by the PEF ‘will not work’.
According to him, “I don't think the ultimatum will be of much use here. What we have to deal with here is an emergency and we have to deal with it. Everyone needed in this task has been fully mobilised for the completion of the project”.
Kashim therefore argued: “The road transport union workers understand the nature of the problem and they know we are working to fix it. We have our fears that if these bridges are not fixed in the next few days, there will be fuel scarcity across the country.
“This is because the ten days ultimatum given to all tanker drivers to deliver products by PEF to points of destination cannot be actualized because of the collapse yet they (PEF) do not want to see reasons with us.
“The worry is that if these tankers don't deliver products at the stipulated deadline our members will lose all their payments since it is PEF that regularises payments”, the NARTO president as he called for the understanding of all concerned.
Also, the National Chairmen, Tanker Drivers Association, Comrade Salimon Oladiti, said that it was a pity that Nigeria was experiencing the problem or deplorable road condition which has now taken its worst state by the collapsed strategic bridges.
“Our members are the worst affected. We want the federal government and the National Assembly to declare an emergency on federal roads in Niger State. Apart from the scarcity of fuel, there would be shortage of foods also because fuel from South to the North has stopped just as some food items from North to Southern part of the country have stopped too”.
According to the Tanker Drivers’ chairman, “You can see that the collapsed of the two bridges has affected the entire economy of Nigeria. Billions of naira are being lost daily as long as these trailers and tankers are grounded”.