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Cablegate: Nigeria: Petroleum Truck Drivers Commence

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS LAGOS 000631

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB EPET KDEM NI PGOV
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: PETROLEUM TRUCK DRIVERS COMMENCE
STRIKE

1. Summary: On April 26 long-distance petroleum truck
drivers in Lagos began an "indefinite strike,"
protesting the Lagos State Government's seizure of some
of their trucks which truckers normally parked
alongside major roads overnight. The Lagos Government
says it will not negotiate with the drivers until they
comply with traffic regulations and relocate to
alternative parking lots. The strike has resulted in
long queues at gas filling stations and brisk business
for black market fuel hawkers. End Summary

2. The Lagos State zonal council of the Association of
Petroleum Tanker drivers directed its members on April
26 to stop lifting petroleum products until the Lagos
State government released forty trucks seized for
violating traffic regulations. Razak Akanbi, the
association's treasurer, told PolSpec the state
government of Lagos was wholly responsible for this
strike action, accusing the government of reneging on
promises to provide alternative parking for the
truckers.

3. The Lagos Government has, however, vowed not to
release the trucks until relevant fines are paid and
warned more impoundments were in the offing as part of
the state's efforts to ease traffic congestion. Lagos
Commissioner for Transportation characterized the
government's decision as irreversible. "We want to
solve this problem once and for all", he said. He
said the government hopes to weather the labor action
by providing incentives to strike-breakers. Drivers
who do not participate in the strike will be provided
police escorts, for example.

4. COMMENT: The dispute between the Lagos government
and petroleum truck drivers has antecedents. In
November 2002, the state impounded sixty-five illegally
parked trucks. The drivers retaliated with a strike,
resulting in significant fuel shortages. The truck
drivers who routinely park their large haulers on major
roads and bridges causing serious traffic delays claim
they have no alternative parking space; the Lagos
Government disputes the claim. While both sides
exchange recriminations, long queues build at Lagos gas
stations. A protracted strike would have a serious
impact on the local economy; but this is only day two
of the strike and neither side appears ready to
concede. Meanwhile, business has never been better for
black market fuel hawkers. END COMMENT

Browne

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