Petroleum products marketers under the aegis of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association on Nigeria (IPMAN), Lagos branch has launched a strong protest against the action of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), by impounding their trucks discharging petrol around border communities.
The marketers vowed to resist the action which it said may likely disrupt effective and efficient products distribution and sales not only along border communities but in most parts of the state.
Speaking with our Correspondent on phone, chairman Satelite depot, Ejigbo and Lagos state chairman of IPMAN, Mr Akin Akinrinade, said the trucks had already loaded at different depots in the state and about discharging products at their designated destinations before the suspension order of products sale at communities near the border was made.
Akinrinade, said the action has unsettled smooth operations of the marketers who obtained bank loans to buy the products.
“Why we are protesting this action is that these trucks have already been designated to discharge products and are on transit while some are about discharging at the stations before they were impounded,” he said. “If you consider the cost, you will see how much a marketer would be losing at the end. For each truck the ex-depot price is N4,398 397.50 and the facility is obtained from the banks and we have stipulated time to offset the loan.”
The chairman stated that while they want to remain law abiding and to do their business in a legitimate way, it would not tolerate the unwholesome action of the Nigeria Customs Service.
“We don’t want to make life difficult for Nigerians especially at this festive period but again we will not be liked to be pushed to react in such a way that the public will begin to suffer. We want the Customs to immediately release our trucks while we call on government to address institutional failures that has led to products smuggling.
“We are not smugglers, we are duly and legitimately licensed to sell products and the Customs and other security agencies have the mandate to check abuses of any form, so I don’t see why marketers are being punished for offences not committed by them.”
He also revealed that illicit petroleum market is significantly thriving in the border areas with petrol selling at N600 per litre. The chairman warned that if the situation is not changed they may have no option but down size their workforce which will not be in the interest of the economy.
He also said telecom companies may soon face challenges powering their base stations as gas supply may begin to wane. Meanwhile, the IPMAN, has protested the directive of the Comptroller of Customs, to suspend supply of petroleum products to fuel stations, within 20 kilometers to all the borders.
In a statement in Lagos yesterday and signed by the state chairman, Mr Akin Akinrinade and secretary, Mr. Akeem Balogun, IPMAN described the decision as punitive and uncalled for, because the fuel stations are not serving people outside the borders.
The IPMAN therefore called for the immediate reversal of the order so as not to punish the border communities, the fuel stations owners and the staff working at these stations. In a circular to zonal and sector coordinators, Operation Swift Response and area controllers, and others, titled: E11/2019 circular No.027: SUSPENSION OF PETROLEUM PRODUCTS SUPPLY TO FILLING STATIONS WITHIN 20 KILOMETERS TO ALL BORDERS, dated November 6th 2019, the Comptroller-General of Customs directed that henceforth no petroleum product no matter the tank size is permitted to be discharged in any filling station within 20 kilometers to the borders. “Consequently, you are all to ensure strict and immediate compliance, please”.