Yultide: Fuel Scarcity Looms In Nigeria As Marketers Dare Customs

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……Border Town Energy, Telecom Service, Others At Risk

Operatives of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) are believed to have commenced a nationwide crackdown on delivery tankers belonging to the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association on Nigeria (IPMAN) caught offloading petroleum products in some Nigerian border towns.

Officials of IPMAN, on other hand, have threatened to disrupt petroleum products supply nationwide if the Custom officials fail to release the arrested trucks, and discontinue further arrests of their members’ vehicles. 

Last Wednesday, the Nigerian Senate Committee on Customs extended summon to the Customs Service boss, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd), for an interaction on the fuel supply situation in the border towns of Nigeria. This followed the recent directive by the Muhammadu Buhari administration for closure of the Nigeria border

The Senate had resolved midweek to engage the Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to work out a viable policy framework to mitigate the sufferings of communities along the nation’s borders due to suspension of petroleum supply to the areas.

The Service last week issued a directive suspending supply of petroleum products to fuel stations within 20 kilometers of Nigeria’s border as a measure to check smuggling of the products.

However, the Senate called for a steady supply of petroleum products through the identified suppliers and registered filling stations across all Nigeria’s border towns and communities as a temporary palliative measures.

The marketers who complained of the arrests vowed to resist the action, hinting that the NCS action may likely disrupt effective and efficient products distribution and sales not only along border communities but in most parts of Nigeria.

Chairman of IPMAN, Mr Akin Akinrinade, explained in an interview that the trucks had already loaded at different depots in the state and about discharging products at their designated destinations before the suspension order of products sale at communities near the border was made.

He said that anything setting the arrested tankers free will unsettle smooth operations of the marketers who he said obtained bank loans to buy the products.

“These trucks have already been designated to discharge products and are on transit while some are about discharging at the stations before they were impounded. If you consider the cost, you will see how much a marketer would be losing at the end. For each truck the ex-depot price is N4,398 397.50 and the facility is obtained from the banks and we have stipulated time to offset the loan.”

The chairman said the Union will not tolerate the unwholesome action of the Nigeria Customs Service. “We don’t want to make life difficult for Nigerians especially at this festive period but again we will not be liked to be pushed to react in such a way that the public will begin to suffer. We want the Customs to immediately release our trucks while we call on government to address institutional failures that has led to products smuggling.

The chairman warned that if the situation is not changed they may have no option but down size their workforce which will not be in the interest of the economy. He also said telecom companies may soon face challenges powering their base stations as gas supply may begin to wane.

By Chibisi Ohakah

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