Fuel Pump Photo: Pixabay
Commuters and motorists in Imo State were stranded, yesterday, following the strike embarked upon by dealers of petroleum products in the 27 councils of the state.
The Guardian learnt that fuel stations were closed as the dealers protested and demanded compensation for demolition of a fuel station built during former Governor Rochas Okorocha’s administration.
Several commuters were sighted walking long distances, as commercial and private vehicle owners parked their buses and cars, while public transport operators increased their fares by 100 per cent.
Consequently, a trip from Owerri, to Aba in Abia State, which used to cost N1, 000 was increased to N2,000, while commuting within Owerri, which usually cost about N50 increased to N100 and above.
Also, black marketers operators sold fuel for N700 per litre.
Responding to the development in a statement issued by the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba, appealed to the fuel dealers to suspend their industrial action.
The state government appealed to operators of the filling fuel to be patient and await the Appeal Court’s ruling on a High Court judgment that ordered compensations for the petroleum dealers.
“Since the matter is still in court, it amounts to self help for petroleum marketers to embark on strike, which in the eyes of the law, is illegal. Government is not unmindful of the effects of such an illegal action on the state’s economy, businesses and residents of the state,” he said.
The state government, therefore, appealed to the operators of the filling stations to reconsider the fragile security situation in the state and suspend the industrial action.
“While the government has the responsibility to ensure the maintenance of law and order, it regrets that the planned strike during the volatile security situation in the country is ill advised, more so, when it is glaring that it is an affront on the law.
“However, this administration is assuring the petroleum marketers that it will abide by any court decision when the matter is finally determined.
“Since the affected owner of the demolished filling station is yet to exhaust all legal options available and since there is a pending appeal on the matter, strike remains illegal,” the statement reads.
The state government, therefore, urged those behind the strike to respect the law in the interest of peace and economic wellbeing of Imo people.