C'River IPMAN Decries Unavailability Of Petroleum Products, Accuses Gov't Regulators Of Complicity

May 10, 2024 - 11:38
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C'River IPMAN Decries Unavailability Of Petroleum Products, Accuses Gov't Regulators Of Complicity

By Judex Okoro 

The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) Calabar Depot, has decried the unavailability of petroleum products in Calabar, alleging a conspiracy of silence over the issue among key government regulators in the petroleum industry.

Speaking at the stakeholders’ meeting with the new South-South regional Coordinator of Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), Mrs. Comfort Ajayi, held in Calabar recently, the chairman of IPMAN, Calabar unit, Comrade Robert Obi, said due to the unavailability of sufficient products the working environment was no longer conducive and favorable to IPMAN members in the state.

Frowning at the lopsided distribution of products by NNPCL which most often causes the artificial scarcity and subsequent over pricing of petrol in Calabar metropolis, Obi said more was expected from NMDPRA to checkmate the diversion and indiscriminate pricing of products by private deport operators, who after lifting from NNPCL makes it difficult for independent marketers to access it.

The IPMAN boss alleged that NMDPRA as a regulatory body in the petroleum sector was not unaware of what the challenges were, but instead of taking proactive steps to address it opted for the conspiracy of silence.

Accordingly, he enjoined NMDPRA and other regulatory bodies to come out of their comfort zones and effectively regulate the petroleum sector in order to ensure the availability of products for independent marketers.

He said: “NNPCL has a major role to play to address the challenges we are facing. Why give products to private tank farms when most of your outlets don’t have it?

“No sincerity on the part of government. No information had been given about this shortfall we had been having.

“As a regulatory agency of the government, come out of your comfort zone and regulate the system well, otherwise, we would make a statement. You can’t pretend not to know what is happening in the system.”

He appealed that whenever products are brought in some percentage should be allocated to the catchment area of Cross River and Akwa Ibom states, explaining that it would go a long way to address the perennial scarcity of product in Calabar as well as enable members of the association to earn some income which will enable them renew their licenses regularly.

Obi, who also appealed for more time to enable members of the association to renew their licenses, expressed the readiness of IPMAN to work harmoniously with the new NMDPRA boss in the region.

In his contribution at the forum, chairman of UDDY King Petroleum, Chief Uduma Ezera, supported the position of the IPMAN chairman, adding that the unavailability of product was the major concern of Independent marketers in the state.

He further decried the situation where after marketers were made to go obtain loan facilities from the banks and pay in advance for petrol, but would be made to wait endlessly for the needed supply.

The petroleum dealer lambasted the government for its inability to regulate the petroleum sector effectively through her regulatory agencies, thereby subjecting the masses and independent marketers to untold hardship.

“The institution you are representing is not doing well. The major problem we are have is how to get this product and sell it. You pay for product, but you don’t have it”, he said.

Earlier, in her welcome address, the regional Coordinator of NMDPRA, Mrs. Comfort Ajayi, applauded members of IPMAN for their conduct even in the face of the current challenges, saying her doors are open for collaboration to address whatever gap noticed in the supply chain of petroleum products in the state.

She added that the meeting was aimed at familiarising her office with members of the body as well as proffering lasting solutions to the lingering fuel scarcity in Cross River.

Ajayi, however, reminded the IPMAN members of the need to always renew their operating licenses, adding that it was unprofessional to operate without the required approval.

While emphasising the need for the renewal of operating license, she promised that concerted efforts would be made to ensure the availability of products to independent marketers in the state, even at the approved rates.

This, according to her informed the earlier directives from NMDPRA to depot owners to always display the prices of products in order to guarantee the needed transparency in the system.

The NMDPRA urged IPMAN to feel free to volunteer information on the activities of private depots to enable them to act swiftly, noting that without any clue it may be difficult for the agency to know what their challenges were at any given time.

According to her, “you know we cannot do it alone; we need your information and advice in order to succeed in this important task.

“However, I am not happy that only 15% of your facilities are licensed and there is the need for others to do renewable as soon as possible.

“You are into a very important business that requires approval. What you are saying is like asking a medical doctor not to renew his license because he does not have much patients. It is wrong.

"As a doctor, or a lawyer, for you to remain in the profession; you must renew your license as and when due irrespective of the level of patronage you enjoy. The same thing is applicable to you, " she stated.