Transport Owners Laud FG on 14-man Petrol Supply Panel, Decry Illegal Diversion of Products

Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja

The President of the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Alhaji Yusuf Othman, yesterday stressed that the 14-man steering committee on petroleum products supply and distribution management chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari, would markedly address the current nationwide shortages.

THISDAY recalls that the team which has the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva as its alternate chairman has among its terms of reference, to ensure national strategic stock management.

It will also ensure visibility on the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) refineries rehabilitation programme and implement end-to-end tracking of petroleum products, especially Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) to ascertain daily national consumption as well as eliminate smuggling.

In a chat with journalists in Abuja, Othman decried what he called the deliberate distortion of the narrative surrounding the shortfall and non-availability of the products by certain forces in the downstream sector.

He insisted that the purveyors of the reports blaming the NNPC retail outlets for scarcity of the products were not exactly right, dismissing the claim as unfounded.

“We note that certain players in the sector who lack the capacity for storage and effective distribution are deliberately pushing the false narrative into the public domain to demonise the NNPC retail outlets,” the NARTO boss stated.

He maintained that public expectations were being met by the oil giant retail outlets which  sell  petrol at  the officially stipulated price.

 ”Whatever is written is not true, it is false. As far as we are concerned the NNPC retailers are the largest retail outlet in the country. As of today, they are the only marketing company that sells fuel at the same price everywhere in the country.

“The same price in Lagos, same price in Abuja. So you will see some envy by other marketers and from experience. Personally, my own company has been working with NNPC retail in the last 15 years. I know their pedigree and their capacity,” he maintained.

Othman appealed to his members and others involved in the haulage of petroleum products to refrain from activities that could sabotage the federal government’s efforts to surmount the challenge crippling effective movement of goods and services.

“Let me use this opportunity to call on our law abiding and patriotic members who are into the transportation of petroleum products to please desist from illegal bunkering, smuggling and diversion of petroleum products because these actions are detrimental to the economy of our great nation.

“ This association will not support, defend, or sympathise with anyone caught committing these crimes, “ he added.

Asked to give the timeline for the end to scarcity, the NARTO president noted that some of the contributing factors were beyond the control of the federal government.

“Relating to the current supply and availability of petroleum products is not unconnected with the current Russia-Ukraine war. Two, is the high cost of transporting from the mother vessels to the daughter vessels to the tank farms. Three, the exchange rate. But I know we have adequate fuel,” he insisted.

He equally pleaded with the federal government to look at the high operational cost of doing business being experienced by players in the haulage of petroleum products.

‘’In terms of our rising operational cost, we are merely trying to breakeven. The most important and primary input in our operations is Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) which is the major energy source used by our trucks.

“Unfortunately, however, the average the major energy sources used as of November 2022, was N808.87  as against N277.89.

“Even our mass transit segment was not spared the high operating cost. According to figures obtained from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the average cost of petrol as of November, 2022 was N202.46 per litre against N167.60 per litre in the corresponding period of 2021,” NARTO stated.

According to the organisation, this was an increase of 20.81 per cent. This, he said, means that the situation has worsened this year with petrol prices reaching up to N300 per litre in many states, amid acute fuel scarcity that has persisting in the country in the last few months.

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