The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, has attributed the tragic petrol tanker accident on October 1st, which resulted in the loss of five lives and significant assets, to the deteriorated state of the Benin/Warri highway.
Numerous innocent Nigerians suffered injuries, and various vehicles, including trucks and cars, were involved in the accident that occurred on the Ologbo section of the Warri/Benin highway.
NUPENG, while expressing condolences to the accident victims, has issued a warning that it may instruct its members to cease work and withhold their services nationwide in protest of the poor road conditions throughout the country.
In a statement by its President and General Secretary, Prince Williams Akporeha and Afolabi Olawale, respectively, NUPENG, said “The leadership and members of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers wish to express our deepest condolences with the families of our Petroleum Tanker Drivers, the deceased, victims, and members of the public on the unfortunate fatal accident that claimed the lives of Petroleum Tanker Drivers and many other innocent Nigerians on the 1st of October, 2023 along the Ologbo axis of the Warri /Benin highway.
“This accident occurred as a result of the failed and deplorable conditions of the Benin/Warri highway. Scores of persons were burnt to death, with many others sustaining serious injuries and lots of vehicles destroyed . The Union is saddened by this unfortunate regular occurrence.
“We deeply commiserate with the families of our Petroleum Tanker Drivers, other deceased and all those who lost one thing or the other as a result of the unfortunate accident.
“This was an avoidable and unfortunate tragedy that wouldn’t have happened if our political leaders aren’t so callous, irresponsible and insensitive to the plight of the ordinary masses they claim to be leading and representing.
“Without any doubt, this was an accident that waited so long before it happened, ind the leadership of our great Union did so much to avert it. We spent workers hard earned money to put hardcore stones and sands several times on many portions of this highway every year to make it passable for our members and other road users .
“We made several advocacy calls and campaigns for repairs of these roads and even issued threats of industrial actions to draw the attention of the relevant authorities to the tragic accident – in- waiting, yet no response until this happened.
“We even took the campaign for repairs of these roads into different Federal and State government houses, even as recent as our visit to the Governor of Delta State just two weeks ago, precisely on the 19th day of September 2023. We make bold to say though these roads are federal roads but the accidents and tragedies like these are definitely local and state calamities.
“No Governor or government officials should shed any crocodile tears in this matter. The blood of our Petroleum Tanker Drivers members and other people that died in this tragic accident is on their hands most especially the former minister of Works and Housing, who spent eight years on the job without any meaningful improvement to the deplorable conditions of the hlghways. We wish to let them know that their words of condolences are like sharp knives and salt to our bleeding hearts and wounds and no amount of condolences will be acceptable to us.
“This tragic accident that happened on our national lndependence Day speaks volumes about our nation’s appreciation and commitment to the sanctity of human lives. Nigerians are being wasted every day through the callousness, insensitivity and negligence of those we entrusted our lives.
“The leadership of the Union finds it so disturbing, that in spites of the daily carnages recorded on the Nigerian highways, the Federal and State governments have remained insensitive to the plights and suffering of the poor masses that commute these deplorable and failed highways on daily bases to convey goods and services.
“With this tragic incident, the Union further demands that the Federal and state governments should immediately commence the rehabilitation of all the failed roads in the country to save the poor masses from these avoidable experiences and deaths.
“We earnestly plead with the general public to bear with us, should we in the next couple of weeks decide to take some decisive steps towards making both the Federal and State
governments do the needful on our roads so as to avoid further similar tragedies and save lives and properties of other people, decisive steps which may include total withdrawal of our services from these death traps called Federal Highways.
“While we mourn those that died, we pray that God should grant members of their families and Nigerians the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.”