*Want products’ imports pegged at N600/$ for three months
*Say deteriorating infrastructure will negatively impact N100bn CNG project
Oil marketers under the aegis of the Natural Oil and Gas Suppliers Association of Nigeria (NOGASA) yesterday, alarmed the federal government to the brutal working condition its members currently operate.
During a press briefing in Abuja, by the National President of the organisation, Mr. Benneth Korie, NOGASA stated that the high dollar exchange rate against the naira rate was killing its businesses, requesting that foreign exchange (FX) for importing fuel should be fixed at N600 for the next three months.
The oil marketers recalled that while they recently applauded the removal of fuel subsidy, they had equally warned and advised that the right steps be taken to cushion its effects for the survival of citizens and their businesses.
NOGASA raised concerns over the growing challenges of petroleum products procurement and distribution, especially with the attendant hardships resulting from increases in pump prices of petrol and diesel across the country.
“NOGASA is seriously worried that between now and December this year, in the absence of government urgent intervention, there will be increasing losses of lives, businesses and jobs.
“This will be accentuated by mass shutdown of filling stations and packing up of petroleum tankers, all due to unattainable high cost of importation, lifting, transportation and distribution of petroleum products,” Korie stated.
He said the price of diesel has hit N1,000 per litre, pointing out that suppliers were at the very ‘bitter’ receiving end of the precarious development.
Similarly, Korie noted that depot owners were terribly affected by the increasing cost of the exchange rate to the extent that many depots are practically deserted as their owners are unable to secure bank loans to fund their businesses due to high interest rates.
“Banks are not willing to guarantee funds release to stakeholders as a result of the difficulty, instability and galloping rates of foreign exchange and high cost of the dollar.
“Many depots are presently dried up or out of stock, and there is no gainsaying this as it is evidently verifiable.
“Worst hit are filling stations whose owners find it extremely difficult to secure funds to procure products for their retail outlets and both the independent and major marketers are so terribly affected that as at today, filling stations are shutting down in great numbers on a daily basis.
“Also, dealers are going out of business with many more on the verge of bankruptcy because of their inability to secure funds to facilitate orders for their stations,” Korie added.
He, therefore, stressed that government must urgently come to the aid of the industry as quickly as possible to save it from an impending ‘colossal collapse’ which will in turn result in a more devastating blow to the economy at large.
“Indeed, the success of this government highly depends on the survival of the oil industry, whose critical stakeholders are presently most negatively affected.
“We wish to once again and most sincerely reiterate that the only realistic option out of this dire situation for now is for government to urgently consider to expedite the provision of ‘emergency palliative measures’ for marketers.
“This will be such that fuels can be imported at the rate of at least N600 per dollar for the next three months while waiting for the promised reactivation of our refineries.
“This will go a long way in cushioning the harsh effect of the high cost of importation and equally bring about reasonable reliefs to the business and cost of living generally,” he explained.
NOGASA lamented that the state of Nigeria’s roads continues to make a very strong statement against government’s responsibility for infrastructural provision and maintenance.
The organisation noted that petroleum products distribution is, and had been severely hampered by roads that are no longer passable.
According to the association, this development was already a waiting threat to the laudable Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) initiative of President Bola Tinubu.
“These conscious and practical solutions are therefore suggested to engage the local workforce to speedily refurbish and/or resuscitate bad roads across the country.
“This will also create thousands of jobs for jobless youths and other restive people in our communities, which will definitely be a plus for this administration,” NOGASA added.
These suggestions, it said, were highly important as effective products distribution requires effective provision and maintenance of roads network across the nation.
“Finally, government should do everything to ensure the removal of all things that have to do with challenges in the areas of importation as well as clearing in NIMASA, NPA, DPR and other agencies that are involved with dollar transactions for marketers.
“The bottlenecks are simply killing us. Our businesses are dying and the system is not helping us at all. An urgent action is highly required to save our industry from total collapse. A stitch in time saves nine!” the oil marketers said.
Source: This Day