HENCEFORTH, the Federal Government will confiscate the properties of oil thieves as part of measures to stop pipeline vandalisation. This is even as oil workers warned that current fuel scarcity would linger unless the government convenes a meeting of all stakeholders including labour.The latest move to address petrol scarcity across the country was disclosed by the Managing Director of Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), Mrs. Esther Nnamdi- Ogbue, during an inspection of vandalized pipelines at Ajebo, Ogun State yesterday.
She said PPMC’s partnership with the private sector and communities is addressing the challenges often associated with petroleum products theft and vandalism.
‘‘The strategy we have adopted is yielding result because for a long time we have complained of the pipelines being vandalised, but we have had nobody to hold. But with this partnership with the private sector and the communities, this is yielding result.
“ And for me, that is the first step. There is a lot of work to be done. We are going to make this business unprofitable because we will treat them the way they are – economic saboteurs and the full weight of the law will accompany their actions,’’ she said.
The PPMC boss said for the first time, the PPMC has engaged the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) to assist PPMC in the fight again vandals.
“We are looking at all ramifications on how to bring these criminals to book because that is just what they are and they have to be treated as such – criminals and pipeline products thieves. There activities have a negative impact on the economy. And so, their trial will be escalated not only in the criminal courts, the EFCC will also prosecute them,” she warned.
According to her, the pipelines are the most efficient way of moving products, adding that, for the first time in a very long while, PPMC is pushing products all the way to Ibadan. stressing that, it intends to transport products to Ilorin because what that does is that, the bridging from Lagos area is reduced, then marketers can go and pick up their products in Ibadan and Ilorin, while Ore in Ondo State is being opened up, ditto for other depots.
“However, we acknowledge the fact that this is a challenge and we have to systematically handle it. It is something that has been a menace for the past 10 to 15 years. Places like Makurdi-Yola, no product has been pumped in the last 10 years and that has meant that in that region, we have to truck from either Calabar, Enugu, or Aba all the way to Yola. The roads are a problem, but thankfully, the Minister of Power, Housing and Works is being engaged and we expect that the endemic problem would be addressed.
“We will follow up those petrol stations receiving products. One of the things here in PPMC, we are going to do is that from Tuesday (tomorrow) I believe, we are going to publish every truck leaving the depots, the station they are headed for.
We are going to publish the phone numbers of the truck driver and the stations themselves so that we all monitor those trucks together. Each truck is important because what has happened in the past month or so should never be repeated again and we are putting in structures in place to ensure that it never happens again.
“There will be strategic storage in-country. We have major depots and we hope with our pipelines coming back on stream, we are going to push products to those strategic storages so that in the event that there is a need for intervention, we can have tankers going to the nearest depots and loading,” she assured.
Meanwhile, oil workers have warned that the fuel scarcity may continue longer than anticipated unless government meets with stakeholders.
Also, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has accused the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and oil marketers of being responsible for the scarcity.
Its president, Igwe Achese, said NUPENG had foreseen the prolonged scarcity of petroleum products and had subsequently called for a stakeholders’ meeting of all bodies to brainstorm and proffer solutions to the challenge, but the outcry of the union was neglected.
“The persistent scarcity of fuel is being caused by the NNPC and oil marketers who are conniving and collaborating to bring untold hardship to the populace”, he said.
The NUPENG boss stated that all efforts to convince the Federal Government and the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources to a roundtable to end the present scourge had been met with brickwalls.
Posted by Yvonne