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Last Updated: Monday, 18 June 2007, 14:55 GMT 15:55 UK
Nigeria unions join fuel strike
Fuel hawkers in Lagos
Selling fuel on the black market is rife in Nigeria
Nigeria's trade union federation is to join a strike over recent rises in petrol prices and value-added tax.

"We have decided to go on an indefinite strike beginning on Wednesday," trade union leader Nuhu Toro told the BBC.

The trade unions had warned the new government of President Umaru Yar'Adua to reverse the increases two weeks ago or face a national strike.

Long queues are already being reported at petrol stations after transport and oil unions went on strike on Friday.

Street protests will accompany the general strike, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President Abdulwahed Omar said.

"All offices, ports, banks, petrol stations and business premises will be shut down. All schools, airports, official and semi-official business premises will be closed," Mr Omar told a news conference in the capital, Abuja.

The BBC's Mannir Dan Ali in Abuja says there is anger at economic decisions taken in the last days of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

He says the next few days could be the first real test for the new leader.

Talks between the Nigeria Labour Congress and the new government broke down over the 15% rise in fuel prices and a VAT increase from 5% to 10%.

The union also wants Nigeria's new President, Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, to reverse Mr Obasanjo's sale of two of the country's refineries.

Walking to work

The impact of the strike is already being felt by many Nigerians who had to walk long distances to work on Monday.

Nigeria's new President Umaru Yar'Adua after he is sworn in - 29/05/2007
The strike could be Umaru Yar'Adua's first real test

There were a few taxis and buses working in the capital, Abuja.

"Even the few taxis and minibuses that are on the road today are charging higher fares because of the new petrol price," says Musa Abdullahi, a security man who had to walk to work.

"The hardship we are facing in the country is too much," another Nigerian in Abuja told the BBC.

Nigeria is Africa's largest oil producer but attacks and kidnappings of foreign oil workers by Niger Delta militants have cut production.

Despite the oil wealth, most Nigerians live in poverty.




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