By Jonathan Nda-Isaiah
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has explained that the current fuel queues in major cities across the country has nothing to do with scarcity of petrol, but a consequence of an industrial action embarked upon by tankers drivers over their condition of service.
NNPC GMD, Mele Kyari, disclosed this to State House correspondents on Tuesday after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja.
He, however, assured that the queues would soon disappear as the tanker drivers have suspended the industrial action.
Kyari further stated that the management of NNPC has waded into the dispute between the tanker drivers and their employers and a truce has been brokered.
Consequently, he said, the drivers had suspended their strike for one week to allow for more interventions, adding that loading of petroleum products, which was hitherto affected by the strike has commenced at all the depots in the country.
He said: “these queues will go away. It’s because there was an industrial action by petroleum tanker drivers against their employers, the National Association of Road Transport Owners around their compensation package and those issues were not resolved up till yesterday, until we intervene to ensure that there’s an amicable settlement between the parties so that they will have peace and then normal loading operations will commence from the depots.
“As I speak to you at this moment, loading has commenced in all depots in the country, dispatches of trucks are ongoing in all the depots in the country and they have called off the strike for a period of one week to enable us intervene and find a solution. So there’s really nothing fundamental that is happening now,” Kyari said.
On the proposed full deregulation of the downstream oil sector to allow for total withdrawal of subsidy on petroleum products, the NNPC GMD said engagements to that effect were ongoing.
He said that the assignment may not be concluded in the month of May, hence the need for the NNPC to announce that there would be no pump price increase in May.
Kyari added: “Subsidy is a policy matter, I’m sure you’re aware of this, there are engagements going on within government to get the best framework for having a fully deregulated PMS market. As this is going on, were engaging all parties and all stakeholders as government and to make sure that at the end of the day, there’s an exit that is beneficial to the ordinary man.
“That is why we know we will not be able to complete that in the month of May and and therefore we declared that there will be no increase in fuel price. I have no update in hand now, this is beyond me, but we’re engaging to make sure that we have the right timeline.”
Asked how increase in crude oil price impacts on NNPC in relation to subsidy, the NNPC GMD responded thus: “You know it works both ways. Once prices increase, your revenue also increases. So I don’t have any numbers around it, but I also know that your obligation to price of petroleum increases and your net revenue also increases. There’s a balancing factor, I don’t think there’s anything much to worry about.”