Un­paid bridg­ing claims threaten fuel sup­ply

Daily Trust - - FRONT PAGE - By Hamisu Muham­mad, Daniel Adugbo, Habibu Umar Aminu, Katsina, Mo­hammed Shosanya, La­gos and Romoke W. Ah­mad, Ilorin

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.”

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