Unless urgent action is taken by the federal government to pay a backlog of N500 billion bridging claims to petroleum products transporters, Nigerians may be in for another long haul of the drudgery of long queues at filling stations in less than two months since the last bout subsided.
To this end, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) has urged the federal government to pay marketers their bridging claims to enable them begin lifting petroleum products from the depots.
The IPMAN Public Relations Officer, Alhaji Yakubu Suleiman said this in Abuja on Tuesday.
IPMAN claims the federal government owes its members N500 billion as bridging claims, otherwise known as transportation claims.
Suleiman also urged the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to convert the special allocation of products meant for cargo to IPMAN in order to quickly address the current shortage of fuel in the country.
“We are calling on the Nigeria downstream and mainstream regulatory authorities to try and pay our marketers their bridging claims as from today.
“This is important, so that as soon as we get the payment, we can give directives to marketers to start loading their trucks, so that they can start transporting petroleum products.
“We are calling on the authorities and the NNPC to quickly allocate a certain cargo of AGO for IPMAN to distribute it to their members to enable them fuel their trucks for accelerated bridging loading.
“There is no money to buy the product until the Federal Government pays our claims and assist in allocating a cargo of AGO to us to hasten loading from various loading deports,” Suleiman said.
Reacting to the claims by IPMAN, an official of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) who spoke under condition of anonymity said the Federal Government had been paying the marketers, though in batches.
According to the official, IPMAN is one of our key stakeholders and we have a committee looking into issues bothering the association.
IPMAN had in a news conference urged Nigerians to prepare for the worst fuel crisis unless the Federal Government prevails on NMDPRA to pay its members their outstanding bridging claims amounting to N500 billion.
Most filling stations in Abuja were shut down at the weekend following scarcity of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), popularly known as petrol, thereby, resulting in long queues.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd.), however, attributed the sudden appearance of fuel queues in parts of Abuja to low load-outs at depots.
A statement by Garba Muhammad, the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Department, NNPC had on Monday, said this usually happened during long public holidays (Sallah celebrations).
Muhammad said another contributing factor to the sudden appearances of queues was the increased fuel purchases which were also common with returning residents of the FCT from the public holidays.
Nigerians recently endured a two month long fuel scarcity when certain energy stakeholders imported off specification fuel into Nigeria. The scarcity lasted longest in the Federal Capital Territory.
The latest, which reared its head in Abuja on Sunday, saw queues up to a kilometer long at some filling stations on Monday.
A source had told NATIONAL ECONOMY that there had been no delivery of fuel into Abuja since last Thursday.
However, scores of vendors using jerry cans can be seen at filling stations selling more than 200 per cent the regular price.