FUEL SCARCITY: MARKETERS ACCUSED OF DIVERSION AND HOURDING

All the apa736 state governors have been challenged to monitor petroleum products distribution in their respective states, in a bid to tackle the persistent fuel shortages, particularly of premium motor spirit, PMS, also called petrol. This is a fallout of a crucial meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, sources close to the meeting told reporters.. Accordingly, the governors were also charged to set up task forces to monitor products movement from the depots to various destinations, to help the Federal Government fight the high incidence of hoarding and products diversion that had characterised the market in the recent time. The charge came, even as the National Petroleum Marketing Company, NPMC, said the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, through its marketing subsidiary, had imported about 81 PMS-laden cargoes from January till date. Loading schedules In addition to setting up task forces, the state governors are equally charged to demand for the vessel schedules and loading activities of PMS in their respective states. “Government wants to find out where the products are going, so governors have been told to request for loading activities every day from marketers, whether NNPC, majors or independents,” the source said. Confirming Federal Government’s directive to the governors, Executive Director, Commercials, NPMC, Mr. Justine Ezeala, told reporters: “We have gone to Lagos State governor to give him the vessels schedule and loading activities in the past one week. We want to be as transparent as possible with this issue.” Why scarcity persists Asked why the scarcity has persisted, despite claims of cargo discharges and involvement of more importers of petroleum products, Ezeala said: “It is no claims at all, cargoes are discharging in all our depot locations as we speak. ‘’To put it clearly for you, as at April 21, we have already brought in 24 cargoes. In January, we imported 21 cargoes; March was our lowest because of the weather issues with offshore refineries. “We brought in 14 cargoes, so those who are saying the cargoes are not coming in are not being fair to the government or NNPC.” He noted that there was no scarcity in January and February when there were fewer cargoes, adding: “We have increased the number of imports in April, which has not even ended, to 24 and yet scarcity persists. So, where are the products going to?” He disclosed that NPMC planned to increase the number of cargoes to 38 by month end, adding that for those that were already on ground, key marketers had been invited to come with their smaller vessels to lighten the mother vessel. “Products are being taken to Warri, Calabar, and Port Harcourt. We have continued to load out more trucks to Lagos and Abuja than we were ever doing before.” He insisted that all of NNPC/NPMC claims were verifiable because, according to him, “the loading schedules we gave to the Lagos State governor contains the number of trucks that left our depots, the stations where they are taken to, including the names of the streets and quantity delivered. “That is why government has told all the states to set up task forces to monitor where the products are going, so we can stop this incidence of hoarding and diversion by marketers.”

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