Bida residents call for end to petroleum tanker drivers’ strike

Solomon Ezeme

Residents of Bida in Niger State, have expressed their dissatisfaction with the ongoing protest by oil tanker drivers in the city which has so far crippled economic activities .

During a special report on Arise TV, monitored by EnergyDay today, the residents voiced their frustration as the impact of the drivers’ action has negatively affected businesses of the residents.

It was earlier reported that oil tanker drivers, during a protest which started on September 23, 2021, have since blocked all the major routes in Bida, preventing commercial activities from taking place .

In spite of pleas by the National Youth Council of Nigeria (Niger State Chapter)to the tanker drivers to vacate the road, as at press time, the admonition has not been heeded.

The road which is still under construction by the Niger State Government, is currently in a deplorable state, especially the Bida-Lapai-Lambata route.

The protest has also hindered commercial motorists from going about their daily business, leaving inter state commuters stranded.

Residents have called on both the State Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, and the Federal Government of Nigeria (FG) to wade in before the situation goes beyond control.

A resident who identified himself as Usman Suleiman, said: “What is happening in Bida today is worrisome. Oil tanker drivers have blocked our roads. This is unfair as many of these routes you see lead to major markets in our community.

“Markets are closed already. We are ,therefore, appealing to the government of the state to come to our aid.

“Of course, one of the agitations of these oil tanker drivers is that the road should be open to them to ply. What’s our position as a community? We are saying that Bida road can never be open to them, for now. This is because we know how we suffered before we got the government to commence this project.

Jimoh Abdulazeez, who is also a resident said the promises made by both present and various past administrations to complete the construction of the road, have gone unfulfilled, noting that the government can address the issue urgently if it shows more seriousness.

“Since this protest actually started, it has not been a very good experience for the Bida people. Things are not in a very good direction because, if you look at the Bida-Lapai-Lambata route, it is in a very bad shape and lots of vehicles are falling into ditches daily, here.

“However, the demand of the oil tanker drivers to open the Bida-Minna road is not the solution. I can assure you that, if that happens, the road will become a chronic route for anyone to ply. For example, at the moment, it takes more than 6 hours for motorists to travel 87 kilometers, from Bida to Minna. This, before now, only took between 2-3 hours.

“Our government needs to wake up and do the needful. This road connects us to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja. So, it is an important road that the government should fix, as quickly as possible.

“If the government is really serious, within a week or two, the bad spots on this road can be fixed and all these drivers will be willing to move their trucks away.

“Subsequent governments of this states have made campaign promises to us about this road, but have all failed.

Meanwhile, oil tanker drivers have maintained that the protest will continue, except the state government bows to their request to open the road to them.

Mohammad Liman, a tanker driver, while reacting to the development, said: “We have been blocking here since, because the road is very bad and the governor has refused to do anything to help.

“Both the Federal Governments and the state government have refused to play their roles.

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