Members of Independent Petroleum Marketers of Nigeria (IPMAN) in Anambra State say they will shut down operations on August 25, 2020, if the government fails to settle N13.6 million debt owed a member company by the state transport company.
The association had issued a 21-day ultimatum to the government on August 4 over the debt owed
Siluch Oil and Gas Limited, an IPMAN member, by Transport Company of Anambra State (TRACAS), for supplies since 2017 as well as other issues raised by the association.
Addressing newsmen in Awka on Sunday, Mr Chinedu Anayaso, Chairman of IPMAN, Enugu Depot, said that the shutdown would be total until all conditions were met.
Anayaso said apart from the debt, members of the association were resisting any form of tax or levy increase by the government as the economy did not currently support such additional burden on businesses.
“We are counting days, we have not seen anything that shows that the state government is treating our letter to them with the seriousness it deserves.
“We expect that they pay the young man his money, withdraw all cases against our members for refusing to pay the levies we did not agree on, and revert to the annual unified levy we reached an agreement on,” he said.
He said that the action would be total because IPMAN, National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Petrol Tanker Drivers’ Union members would join the strike and warned that anyone who violated the order would pay a fine of N500, 000.
He also said within the period of shutdown, no product destined for Anambra would be loaded and that other states like Enugu and Ebonyi under the zone would be affected.
Uche Okoye, the Managing Director of Siluch Oil and Gas, said his company was enjoying good business relationship with TRACAS until the second term campaign of Gov. Willie Obiano of Anambra State when it could not pay for four months.
Okoye said he had written and visited TRACAS and the transport ministry several times over the debt but regretted that the company had refused to pay him.
He stressed that the money was a loan secured from a bank on which he had been paying an interest.
“The debt is seriously affecting me because it is a loan I obtained from bank.
“I have more than 30 workers, and things are getting more difficult by the day due to TRACAS’ indebtedness to my company.
“Initially, I had no plans of laying off workers even with the current economic hardship in the country, but as it is, I am somehow working on a very tight rope.”
Mrs Edith Madukasi, the Managing Director of TRACAS, said she was informed on assumption of duty in the company that Siluch was owed some money by the company.
“I was told that TRACAS is owing Siluch for the product it supplied to us, but I cannot speak on the matter, it is my commissioner that will speak on that,” Madukasi said.
Mr Afam Mbanefo, Commissioner for Transport in Anambra, said he had been briefed on the debt and that he was already working on it.
Mbanefo said that government would ensure that every stakeholder got what was due to them.
“I have looked at the transactions of this office since I assumed office and this debt amounting to N13.57 million was presented, and IPMAN leadership had also visited me on the same matter.
“I did a review with TRACAS and requested for a lot more information about the procurement procedures, gathered enough relevant documents and have gone ahead to raise a memo to the governor.
“I understand that the particular marketer is still doing business with the state government to keep his business running while we resolve the issue.
“My initial question was how on earth was he supplying diesel to the level that it got to that amount, and he did not question how he would be paid?
“I sent the memo mid-July, and I am sure it will be under review by now,” he said.
Mbanefo said the ministry was talking with IPMAN to ensure that there was no breakdown of its services.
He said that Anambra had a good relationship with IPMAN and would do all that it could to ensure that the marketer recovered his money; and the government maintained the good relationship with the association.
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