By Emma Una
CALABAR—PETROL filling stations in Calabar and other parts of Cross River State have remained shut since Tuesday following the strike action embarked upon by tanker drivers, who are protesting the imposition of road levy on them by the state government.
The levy requires every truck that lifts pms and other petroleum products from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, depot in Calabar to pay N12,800, which according to the government is to be used for the maintenance of the dilapidated roads in the state.
The tanker drivers are insisting that the roads they ply are federal roads maintained by the Federal Government, therefore, the state ought not to impose any such levy in addition to the ones they are paying.
“They are telling us that trucks carrying UNICEM products have been paying the levy since 2015 but they fail to understand that UNICEM trucks evacuate products from state roads but we ply mostly federal roads which are maintained by the Federal Government and the state therefore, ought not to ask us to pay any such levy,” James Okoronkwo, one of the drivers told Vanguard.
The strike has paralysed business activities in Calabar and other parts of the state and the cost of transportation has tripled.
Taxis now charge N200 for a distance that used to cost N50, while N400 is charged for distances that used to cost N100.
A litre of pms at the black market costs N800, while kerosene costs N500, which has made many drivers to Park their vehicles and resort to walking than pay the high fares charged by the few taxis on the road.
When Vanguard visited the NNPC depot Office of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers Union , the officials refused to speak, claiming that it was only after they have held a meeting with officials of the Cross River State Government that they can speak to journalists.
Mr Itaya Nyong, the Special Adviser to Senator Ayade on Petroleum could not be reached on phone as his mobile phone, as it was switched off.
Mr Chris Ita, Chief Press Secretary to the governor said the officials of the state government and the tanker drivers leaders will hold a meeting to resolve the matter before soon.