June 22, 2024
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Ghana’s Petroleum Tanker Drivers Declare Nationwide Strike Over Service Conditions

Petroleum haulage tanker drivers in the Republic of Ghana commenced a nationwide strike on Tuesday to protest the refusal of key stakeholders to approve a conditions of service document for drivers and their assistants.

The drivers accuse the Board of the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), the regulator of the petroleum downstream sector, and the Association of Oil Marketing Companies (AOMC) of refusing to sign the document. This document had already received approval from the majority of a committee tasked with drafting the conditions of service framework.

The committee, facilitated by the NPA and chaired by NPA Deputy CEO Curtis Perry Okudzeto, had been working on addressing the poor working conditions of tanker drivers and their assistants—a long-standing issue.

Historically, poor conditions led some drivers to siphon fuel during their journeys to service stations. However, the introduction of electronic cargo tracking systems by the NPA has curbed such practices by monitoring fuel tankers from loading to destination points.

The drivers and their assistants had high hopes that the new conditions of service framework would end their years of hardship. Unfortunately, these hopes have been dashed for now.

In a petition dated May 7, 2024, to President Akufo-Addo, the National Executives of the Ghana National Tanker Drivers Union (GNTDU) recounted the history of their grievances. They reminded the President that he had directed then-Minister Boakye Agyarko and former NPA CEO Hassan Tampuli in August 2017 to address their issues.

Despite a subsequent emergency meeting called by John Peter Amewu, who succeeded Boakye Agyarko, and the formation of a committee involving various stakeholders, the agreed-upon conditions of service framework has not been implemented. The committee included representatives from the Ministry of Energy, Ministry of Employment and Labour, AOMC, NPA, Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Company (BOST), General Transport Petroleum and Chemical Workers Union (GTPCWU), Tanker Owners Union (TOU), and GNTDU.

The framework was unanimously accepted and was supposed to be implemented in November 2023. However, the new board of AOMC opposed it, claiming their representative was not authorized to endorse the document, a stance the drivers find untenable.

The drivers have urged President Akufo-Addo to intervene. George Nyaunu, National Chairman of GNTDU, stated that they issued a two-week ultimatum to the NPA to resolve the issue, but received no response. Their petition to the President also remains unanswered.

“We have laid down our tools. We are not going to work,” Nyaunu declared.

When contacted, NPA Communications Manager Kudus Mohammed stated that salary payments are the responsibility of employers, not the NPA. He explained that the NPA CEO, out of concern for the drivers’ poor working conditions, had facilitated the committee’s formation to address their grievances. Mohammed noted some stakeholders had disagreements and wanted parts of the document reviewed, but rejected claims that the NPA had refused to sign it.

“The allegation against the NPA is unfounded. This is not something that would affect the NPA, so why would the Board refuse to sign?” Mohammed questioned.

Meanwhile, Energy News Africa checks at the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) and BOST depots in Accra and Kumasi revealed that drivers have parked their trucks and are discussing their poor working conditions, signaling the start of their strike action.

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