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Petrol scarcity looms in Abuja, others as marketers begin strike over N50bn debt

Nigerians are bracing up for another round of scarcity as petrol marketers started a three-day strike on Monday over an unpaid N50 billion transport bridging…

Nigerians are bracing up for another round of scarcity as petrol marketers started a three-day strike on Monday over an unpaid N50 billion transport bridging claims across nine depots in the North.

The Suleja branch Chairman of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Alhaji Yahaya Alhassan, at the NNPC Suleja depot, said the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) had not paid the claims, an allowance to marketers for transporting petrol from Lagos/ports to the hinterlands and far the North since January.

The nine states in the North with NNPC depots are Borno, Adamawa, Kano, Kaduna, Benue, Plateau, Gombe, Niger and Zamfara.

Daily Trust observed scores of tankers loaded with petrol arriving from Lagos near the Suleja depot as the operators complied with the industrial action.

Alhassan, who referred to NMDPRA’s Chief Executive, Farouk Ahmed, said, “We have about N50.6bn with him, and because of that we are withdrawing our services. We have sat with him over and he didn’t respond.”

Yahaya dismissed the recent response by NDMPRA that a huge chunk of the marketers’ claims had been cleared.

He said, “We have evidence that we have supplied petrol and they owe us N50.5bn. He started paying from when they became NMDPRA, but since December, 2021, he has not paid and our members are going out of business.”

Also, the Suleja IPMAN Secretary, Alhaji Mohammed Shuaibu, said payment had accumulated to N50.6bn as of last week and that, “This year, he has not paid any marketer, and if he says he has paid let him bring evidence. It’s a national issue not peculiar to Suleja.”

The Borno chapter of IPMAN at a briefing at the Maiduguri depot said the claims had reached N70bn.

“For years, we have been following and lobbying the management of the NMDPRA regarding our unsettled bridging claims amounting to N70bn to no avail,” said the chapter’s spokesman, Abdulkadir Mustapha.

Addressing newsmen at the Kano NNPC depot, Chairman of the Northern Independent Petroleum Marketers Forum (NIPMF), Alhaji Musa Yahaya Mai Kifi, said while filling stations would continue to sell fuel, no truck would be allowed to leave the depots.

He said, “We were forced by circumstances to take this action to register our plight. Our business is facing a serious threat of high cost of diesel, bad roads and high cost of spare parts. The major threat to our business is the government’s inability to pay our transportation claims amounting to billions of naira.”

By Simon E. Sunday, Linda Ifeachor (Abuja), Hassan Ibrahim (Maiduguri) & Ibrahim M. Giginyu (Kano)

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