Petrol scarcity: IPMAN begins strike in Abuja, others over N50bn claims | Dailytrust

Petrol scarcity: IPMAN begins strike in Abuja, others over N50bn claims

Fuel scarcity
Fuel scarcity

Amid scarcity of petrol, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Abuja and Suleja Depot Unit, declared a halt in supply on Wednesday over a N50 billion unpaid bridging claims by the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA).

But the authority is insisting on manual verifications of the claims as officials said NMDPRA has paid off claims faster and more than its predecessor since its creation last year.

Addressing the press in Abuja, the IPMAN unit Chairman, Alhaji Yahaya Hamman Alhassan, said, “This strike is a warning strike, and if care is not taken, we are going to continue because our members, majority of them, have already left this business because of their payments. The warning is between now and next week.”

The IPMAN unit Secretary, Alhaji Mohammed Shuaibu, at the briefing said, “If we can give you the sum total they are owing the marketers today, it is above N50bn for 12 months.”

Explaining further, Shuaibu said the claims were owed by the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) which was merged to form NMDPRA in October, 2021, noting that the debt since 2021 had caused about 85 per cent of their staff to be laid off “because there is no money to pay their salaries. This includes pump attendants, truck drivers and other administrative staff.”

He also blamed the petrol scarcity in Abuja and environs to the lack of claims payment as IPMAN lacked money to buy new product and transport the same.

“The public should hold the head of NMDPRA responsible for the current scarcity being experienced across the petrol stations in Abuja and environs.”

The NMDPRA head, Mr Farouk Ahmed, recently dismissed the one-year claims of marketers, saying only few payments were outstanding because those marketers did not show up for claims verification.

But the IPMAN unit secretary said the government under PEF transitioned from manual to electronic claims verification with the Project Aquila, an electronic product monitoring system operating .

He said, “They have our records and everything is in their system; they should come out clean and pay us our money. The last time we confronted him, he selected marketers and paid them. He paid three or four marketers and said it was a mistake.”

However, a senior official at the Authority also insisted the marketers must come for physical verification noting that products loaded in the last few weeks for Abuja have been allegedly diverted, resulting in the furtherance of the scarcity.

Reacting in a statement yesterday, NMDPRA said it has paid N74bn claims to marketers in seven months.

It said after a meeting in May, NMDPRA paid another N10bn in June and also implemented N10 upward freight rate review for the transporters.

“The Authority wishes to reiterate that bridging payment is an ongoing process which is carried out after due verification exercise by the Authority and marketers.  So far, the Authority paid N71,233,712,991 bridging claims and another N2,736,179,950.84 freight differentials to the Marketers as at 6th June, 2022,” it noted

By Simon Echewofun Sunday & Linda Ifeachor

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