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Tema, March 21, GNA - Over 1,500 tanker drivers operating at the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) have embarked on a sit down strike in protest against alleged harsh disciplinary action meted out to them by Security Officials of TOR.
After loading just nine tankers with fuel early Wednesday morning, the drivers, who have parked at their parking lot started demonstrating. Normally they load about 230 tankers a day.
Speaking to the GNA, Mr Adom Mensah, National Chairman of the Tanker Drivers Union, flanked by his Executives said since January 2007 when they were relocated from the frontage of the TOR to the operational park, a total of 49 tankers in addition to drivers and mates had been banned from operating for periods between two months and six months. He said they have been accused of siphoning fuel inside the operational park, which is not allowed and also overstaying at the frontage of the TOR after loading.
Mr Mensah, however, denied those charges and explained that under the regulation, they were not allowed to drive loaded tankers inside the park so there was no way they would have fuel in their tankers to siphon as alleged.
On the overstaying charge, he said after loading the product they had to wait for some time for the processing of the invoice prepared by the Oil Marketing Companies before taking off else their tankers faced interception by the security personnel.
The National Chairman said until their drivers were reinstated and the tankers allowed back "we would not load the tankers".
Meanwhile, Captain Edward Kofie (RTD), Security Services Manager of TOR, when contacted explained that, to ensure absolute security at the Refinery the drivers, who were previously parking their tankers at the frontage of TOR were relocated to the yard.
It is alleged that since they moved there frequent fire outbreak were being recorded as a result of siphoning of fuel from tankers into gallons, so stringent regulations were put in place.
It was then made clear to the drivers and the Oil Marketing Companies that loaded tankers would not be allowed into the operational park. He said they were given 45 minutes to process their invoice, but contrary to the laid down regulations the tanker drivers spent about six hours after loading with some of them siphoning fuel from their tankers. Captain Kofie said mindful of previous fire incidents, "we will not allow people to have their own way while the nation suffers", hence the action.
He, however, denied that 43 tankers have been affected and said only eight tankers and their drivers have been disciplined and even that it was for a period of only one week or less depending on the explanation given by the tanker owners.
On the siphoning of fuel, the Security Services Manager said the drivers did it indiscriminately, and "since it is done in a rush anything at all could happen", adding; "in this time of energy crisis nobody should be allowed to misbehave.
"We have, therefore, made our point clear, and we stand by it to serve as a deterrent to others", he stated. 21 March 07
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