By Chibuzo Ukaibe, Festus Okoromadu, Abuja and CHIKA IZUORA, Lagos
The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, (NNPC) Maikanti Baru, has disclosed that up to 4,500 trucks of petrol were diverted during the fuel scarcity crisis last month.
Baru made this disclosure while speaking before a meeting of the joint committee of the Senate and House of Representatives. The meeting was organised to find a lasting solution to the fuel crisis.
He explained that the diversion of trucks of petroleum products was one of the major reasons for the recent fuel scarcity, which caused many Nigerians to experience a bleak holiday.
Baru said, “We noticed in the data analysis that up to 4,500 trucks did not complete the ‘acquilla process’.”
According to Baru, the acquilla process, is a process which requires that a tanker returns to the ‘loading point’ after it has discharged its cargo to a particular filling station, for verification that the product had reached the destination.
“Up to 4,500 trucks of products were diverted. We are not just saying this, we have proof. These 4,500 trucks that did not return, are believed to have been diverted. And investigations are ongoing to know if they have really been diverted,” he added.
He said, “A rumour in the media of an impending hike in pump price also contributed to the scarcity.
“There was a frenzy in terms of moving products to the major consumption centres (which) were taken away to be sold at a different price. We tackled that by reassuring Nigerians that there is sufficient supply and there is no issue concerning the increase in price of fuel. The DPR had not made any announcement and we have not been directed by the Federal Government to increase the price of fuel.
“PENGASSAN decided to announce a strike from the December 18 which led to panic buying. People with more than one car came out to fill all the cars and some even bought in jerry cans to save for the future.”
Speaking on actions taken to resolve the scarcity, the GMD explained that the NNPC had increased its surveillance in partnership with DPR and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps.
He added, “We directed 24 hours operation in all depots to ensure 24 hours loading of products. The NNPC, in response to the crisis, brought in six extra cargoes, 300 million litres, as additional imports to increase sufficiency. We have re-activated and re-streamed the Kaduna and Port-Harcourt refineries. Kaduna has been contributing 3.25 million barrels per day and Port-Harcourt contributes 3 million.”
While sympathising with Nigerians over the discomfort experienced during Yuletide, Baru said the queues “have disappeared from the filling stations in Abuja for about a week now and in Lagos for over 10 days.”
He further explained that Nigerians consume between 27 and 35 million litres of PMS per day, adding that due to ”massive diversion, hoarding, panic buying and smuggling, coupled with information that three DSDP consortia had rejected October cargoes, there was insinuation of a supply gap.”
Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and Board Chairman, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, on Friday debunk rumours that the federal government is bowing to petroleum marketers’ demand to increase the pump price of premium motor spirit (petrol) in the wake of the recent revelation that the landing cost of the commodity has risen to N171.40 per litre.
Kachikwu who addressed the media on what he called social media commentary on his presentation to the Joint Senate and House Committees on Petroleum Downstream on Thursday, speculating that he made a statement implying that the pump price of petrol might be increased to N180 was a false.
“No such statement was made, no such plan is intended,” he stated.
PDP Kicks Against Fuel Price Hike
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday said the thoughts by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led federal government to increase fuel from price from N145 per litre would not only be criminal but inhuman and completely unacceptable.
The PDP while warning the governing to perish thoughts of fuel price increase, further stated that the lingering fuel crisis and its attendant black-market costs were only a ploy by the APC to justify their intended hike of petroleum prices.
The opposition party added that its investigations had revealed that the federal government had been lying to Nigerians on oil related issues while using the NNPC to bandy figures with intentions to arrive at APC’s predetermined agenda to increase the price of fuel.
The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement said the APC government had completely become numbed to the sufferings of Nigerians to the extent that it no longer cared about imposing more hardship on our people.
The PDP said, “instead of putting more burden on the people, the APC government should come out clear on sleazes in the oil sector under its watch, particularly the shady oil subsidy payouts and illegal lifting of
N1.1 trillion worth of crude using unregistered companies.”
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