Oil tankers, LPG drivers launch steer down strike

Imphal: Coordination Committee POL and Bulk LPG drivers have launched steering down protest on Saturday demanding safety of drivers plying along national highway after the gun attack at Tolen village, Kaimai area, Imphal-Jiribam national highway.

Drivers of the Coordinating Committee POL and Bulk LPG drivers staged a sit-in in front of Malom Oil Depot, Imphal West on Saturday.

Some cadres of United Kuki National Army (UKNA), an underground outfit, ambushed a convoy of oil tankers including LPG gas bullet at Tolen village, Kaimai area, along Imphal-Jiribam National Highway on Saturday. Two drivers received bullet injuries while five oil tankers and an LPG gas bullet tankers were damaged.

After the incident UKNA had issued a press note stating that any the outfit is responsible for the ambush as the first offensive operation against the supply of the essential commodities and other weapon in aid of Meitei community.

Secretary of All Manipur Tanker Driver’s Union, Pukhrambam John alias Tomba said the drivers have been serving for the entire society irrespective of caste, creed and community. Even in critical situations the drivers have been trying at their level best in transporting essential goods for the people of Manipur.

The union strongly condemn the firing incident of Tolen village, he added.

He said during the pandemic the drivers were declared as frontline warriors. However no compensation from the government has been received by any of the drivers at the time of need.

Earlier, security personnel were provided for each tanker earlier, but, at present a vehicle of CRPF is provided for 30 tankers, he added.

Unfortunately, the drivers were told that the CRPF were not given any order for retaliation if any person or group attack the oil tankers along the highway. What is the use of providing security if they cannot protect the tankers? He questioned.

John said Coordinating Committee POL and Bulk LPG drivers have submitted a four points memorandum to the governor and chief secretary of Manipur respectively on 20.

He announced that the drivers under the umbrella of the committee have launched steered down with immediate effect.

The agitation will be called off immediately if the government fulfills the demands of the drivers, said John.

He said there is no objection for petroleum outlets on opening their oil pumps but the drivers will steer down as a part of the agitation.

The demands included stringent actions, such as shoot at sight to anybody who disturbs or attacks the escort convoy movement since these essential items belongs to more than 35 different communities of the state.

Such disturbances are act of terrorism towards the 35 different communities, they should be dealt with strictest law of the country, John said,

At least one security personnel must be deployed for each and every TT joining the convoy (as implemented earlier). In case of any break down to the tankers, security convoy must escort the vehicle until it is roadworthy. Disciplinary action must be initiated to the security personnel who are unaccountable and irresponsible, as demanded.

If any driver has become permanently disabled by any incident in the line of duty, government must confer a suitable job to the next kin in the family with respect to the incumbent’s qualification or pay a lumpsum amount, minimum of Rs 15 Lakhs to the concerned Family.

In case of any driver succumbed due to any untoward incident in the line of duty, tge government must pay an ex- gratia Rs 40 lakh to the bereaved family with a suitable job to the next kin member of the family.

The Union of India should have a dialogue for a long-term solution with any known or unknown organisations to ensure the safe passage for the drivers along the highway, the drivers fraternity demanded.

They said, as it is not certain where and when the shooting by heavily armed miscreants may occur, the drivers lives are at stake on daily basis.

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