BY EMEKA EJERE
Another round of fuel scarcity may be imminent as members of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria on Wednesday disrupted loading of petroleum products at private depots in Apapa as well as Ibadan, Ejigbo and Mosimi depots belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
According The PUNCH, the marketers picketed the facilities to protest their inability to get products due to a new payment method introduced by the Petroleum Products Marketing Company, a subsidiary of the NNPC.
The Chairman, IPMAN, Ore Depot, Mr Shina Amoo, confirmed the development in an interview with our correspondent in Ibadan on Wednesday.
He said the members of the association blocked the depots with tankers to protest the new payment method.
Amoo said independent marketers were angry because the new payment method, called ‘PPMC Customer Express’, was foisted on them suddenly and the NNPC expected compliance immediately without considering the business interests of many members of the association.
He explained that with the new arrangement, major marketers and very few independent marketers with huge funds could pay for 200 trucks and load them while those who had paid for one or two trucks would be on queue for many months unattended to.
He said, “They must return to the old way of payment, which is also an online payment through Remita. IPMAN members held a meeting last night and decided to block loading depots in Ibadan, Ejigbo, Mosimi and private depots in Apapa.
“IPMAN members blocked the depots this morning with their trucks to protest the new payment method.”
According to Amoo, the picketing will continue until the PPMC reverts to the previous payment method.
He said, “The new payment requires various prerequisite documents like renewal of bulk purchase, renewal of licence and several other documents that are not readily available.
“Within few days of this new payment method, some northern big marketers have used the situation to shortchange independent marketers in the South-West. With this, fuel scarcity is imminent.
“PPMC Customer Express mode of payment was introduced without consideration for billions of naira worth of tickets which IPMAN members already tied down in NNPC system.”
Amoo said the new payment method was introduced by the PPMC on February 4, adding that since then, no independent marketer had been able to load.
The NNPC, which has been the sole importer of petrol into the country in recent years, is still being relied upon by marketers for the supply of the product despite the deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector.
Private oil marketing companies have continued to lament that their inability to access foreign exchange at the official rates has hampered efforts to resume petrol importation.