Unpaid bridging claims threaten fuel supply
Truck owners have threatened to stop transporting fuel across the country from tomorrow over backlog of unpaid bridging claims and none reimbursement of insurance premiums by the major marketers.
Over 95 percent of petroleum products are transported by trucks as the nations’ pipeline infrastructure is grounded. The bridging scheme is meant to ensure uniform pump price of petroleum products in the country. The bridging cost is built into the pump price and the money is deducted by the major marketers and paid to the Petroleum Equalisation Fund, a government agency that administers the fund.
However, the commencement of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) by the federal government last year has disrupted the smooth running of the scheme as the monies meant to pay the transporters were said be trapped in the CBN.
Some marketers said that the bridging fund did not belong to government and therefore should not be stashed in the TSA.
Last week, the umbrella organization of all commercial vehicles ownersNigerian Association of Road Transport
Owners (NARTO) and Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) gave seven days ultimatum to government to settle them or they would withdraw their services.
NARTO President, Alhaji Kassim I. Bataiya, said there were three major issues: payment of the backlog of the freight rate, implementation of the approved template by the NNPC and independent marketers and reimbursement of the insurance premiums by the major oil marketers of the products already transported.
Bataiyya told Daily Trust yesterday that although, the government, through the PEF, the NNPC and the independent marketers had responded to the transporters calls, the major marketers were yet to react.
He said by the end of tomorrow (Tuesday), no truck owner would lift product for the major marketers nationwide, until they settled the insurance claims running into billions.
Our reporters gathered that marketers and other stakeholders were demanding the bridging funds be removed from government control, but this is yet to be done.
At present, many consumers in the hinterland are paying higher than their counterparts in the coastal areas.
Prices differ despite bridging
Meanwhile fuel prices continue to vary across Nigeria.
A July National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) report revealed that fuel consumers bought petrol at an average price of N149 per litre in June, which was higher than the N145 per litre approved by the federal government.
The latest report showed that residents of Borno, Taraba and Adamawa bought petrol at the highest prices of N173, N160 and N157 respectively.
This comes as major and independent marketers confirmed to our correspondents that they had filed fresh bridging claims to cover for the period government announced new pump price of fuel.
Akin Fatunke, spokeman of Mobil Oil Plc, confirmed that his company had filed bridging claims on products after the withdrawal of fuel subsidies by the federal government.
Spokesman of the Nigerian Independent Petroleum Company (NIPCO), Alhaji Taofeek Lawal confirmed to our correspondent that his company still got bridging claims after the government’s withdrawal of fuel subsidies.
“We have filed bridging claims for the months to cover the period the new pump price of fuel was announced,” he said.
Surveys conducted by our correspondents nationwide showed that for instance in Katsina metropolis, petrol is sold between N140-145 naira per litre in most filling stations in the metropolis while some stations in the outskirts sell for N150 per litre.
Those selling at N150 are mostly in local governments that are a bit far away from the capital. One marketer who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the high cost was informed by the costs of transportation.
The state chairman of IPMAN, Abbas Hamza, said none of his members who were close to ninety had received any bridging payment since the new bench mark of N145 price was announced by government.
He said there was serious delay in the payment of the bridging monies as many were yet to be settled on past bridging even before the new increment.
Petrol marketers in Kwara and Bauchi states said despite the subsidy removal by the federal government, they had continued to collect bridging claims.
“The PEF is paying N105,000 on every 33,000 litres of petrol for bridging from Lagos to Ilorin. The deregulation is partial not total,” A source close to the marketers said.
A fuel marketer, Alhaji Sani Dogon Arziki, who owns Samkoli fuel station at Sabon Garin Narabi, Bauchi State and Edison around Zaria road in Jos, Plateau State said the removal of subsidy has not in any way affected government’s commitment to payment of bridging claims.
According to him: “I have to go through my books, to check my past waybill numbers to be certain of the exact amount but as at last week, the government paid me N405,000 as waybill for lifting fuel from Lagos to Jos.”