…Computers stranded, students, workers trek to offices, schools
From: JUDEX OKORO, Calabar
The National Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Cross River State branch and the IPMAN have ordered its members to shut down filling stations across the state over the introduction of N12, 800 tankers’ levy.
The ‘illegal levy’ was introduced by the administration of Gdoswill Akpabio in the state.
This development has caused artificial scarcity within the state, leading to hike in petroleum products as black marketers now sells between N400 and N600 pee litre.
To ensure total compliance with NUPENG and IPMAN move, the IPMAN has constituted a task force unit to ensure that all filling stations in the state were closed down indefinitely.
The state government, through its revenue agencies has imposed a compulsory daily road maintenance levy on trucks plying Calabar route.
Checks around Calabar metropolis revealed that commuters in major routes were stranded over lack of taxis on streets and highways due to the shut down of filling stations.
Investigations by Daily Sun revealed that the strike had paralysed economic activities in the state as artisans, welders, barbers, tricycle operators and others have shut down their businesses.
Workers, school children and business men were seen trekking to work and business premises.
A commuter, Mrs. Julian Ekpo, told our correspondent that she tracked to her office after she had stood by the road side waiting for a taxi for almost two hours.
Mrs. Ekpo a civil servant in one of the federal ministries at federal secretariat Calabar, said she had to track along with her children in the morning and would still track back as there are no taxis on the road due to the artificial scarcity.
Another commuter, Eyo Louis, said:”I paid N200 a drop instead of the usual N100. I paid the same for my children to go to school. So if the strike continues I would be forced to stop going to work because I can’t afford to be spending such money daily.”
John Oben, an artisan, said the scarcity had reduced the number of taxis plying different routes in the metropolis.
Oben said he bought a litre at black market at N500 to be able to drop his children at school as against the usual N200.
He described the incident as `hell’, saying it has affected the movement of goods and services across the state.
Oben appealed to the state government and the NUPENG to dialogue and find a middle ground.
Chairman of IPMAN in the state, Mr Robert Obi, said he cannot comment on the matter at the moment until they interface with the government.
Reacting, the Chief Press Secretary and Media Adviser to Gov. Ben Ayade, Mr Christian Ita, said the state government was only enforcing the road development levy.
Ita said that the levy had been in place since the administration of former Gov. Liyel Imoke, adding that it was only petroleum tankers drivers that had not complies with the enforcement.
According to him, the shortfall of revenue from federal allocation had necessitated the state government to look inward to mop up funds for personnel cost.
“We decided to enforce payment of the levy on petroleum tankers with a view to help us generate more funds.
“Talks are currently going between government and the relevant petroleum unions to resolve the strike.
Ita said he is optimistic that issue would be resolved say soon as possible.