Tanker Drivers Plan to Stop Petrol Lifting Monday

Nigeria may witness another round of fuel scarcity as the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners, on Thursday, vowed to stop lifting petroleum products beginning next week Monday due to the high cost of operations.

NARTO members have repeatedly raised concern over the high cost of diesel required to power their trucks for the transportation of petroleum products across the country.

Oil marketers said on Thursday that diesel prices are between N1,250 to N1,400/litre depending on the area of purchase.

NARTO’s President, Yusuf Othman, in a statement he issued in Abuja on Thursday, said the statement was an official announcement from the association’s headquarters that members of the group would park their trucks from Monday.

“Why? It is because what we spend on operations is more than what we get in total, both in local and bridging,” he stated.

Othman said NARTO members had been operating at a loss and it was no longer sustainable for them to endure the losses.

“We will have to suspend operations latest from now till on Monday. We cannot continue to operate at a loss. Most people have parked. A lot more are going to the park. But from the point of the association itself, we are going to suspend operations on Monday,” he stated.

He said NARTO’s efforts to get the intervention of key stakeholders, the Federal Government and industry operators had not yielded positive results.

The NARTO president said the association had written letters on the unbearable cost of operations to the Chief of Staff to President Bola Tinubu; Minister of Petroleum Resources; Department of State Services; Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authority; Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited; and oil marketers.

“We have written letters up to the level of the Chief of Staff to the President. We have written to the Minister of Petroleum Resources (Oil). We have written to the Director-General of SSS. We have written to NNPC’s boss. We have written to the NMDPRA. We have written to the major marketers,” Othman stated.

He stressed that despite the letters, there has been “no response.”

Analysing the market situation, which the members have endured for several months, he stated that the same freight rate that applied when former President Muhammadu Buhari was ruling, was still subsisting.

“The Lagos to Abuja freight rate that was implemented when the dollar was N650 is still retained now that the dollar is N1,615. Everybody is aware that all our consumables in terms of operation are not produced in the country.

“So, by the rate of dollars, every consumable has increased. But the freight they are paying us has been the same since Buhari’s time. So how is that feasible? During Buhari’s time, one dollar was N650. Today, a dollar is N1,615. The average freight from Lagos to Abuja is N32,” he stated.

Othman further explained that “what I mean by local is that when you load in Lagos, you discharge in Lagos. And bridging means that when you load from Lagos, you come to Abuja. Lagos to Lagos, we are paid N120,000.

“AGO (diesel) alone to distribute fuel within Lagos is N140,000 because it is N1,400/litre. So, they give you N120,000 and you spend N140,000. So how do you want to operate? You’ve not talked about the cost of vehicles, cost of loading, driver’s allowance. That is for local.”

He stated that the cost of moving products out of Lagos or Warri to other states was far higher than what the government was paying to tanker drivers as bridging claims.

The government pays an agreed sum to transporters of petroleum products as bridging claims to ensure equality in the pump prices of these products across states, though this has not been the case.

NARTO is the umbrella organisation for commercial vehicle owners in Nigeria. The association represents the interests of those involved in the haulage of petroleum products, general cargoes and passenger movement within the country and the West African sub-region.

NARTO has expressed several concerns regarding transporting petroleum products in Nigeria, impacting both their members and the overall efficiency of the process.

It has complained of poor road conditions, as frequent potholes, dilapidated bridges, and lack of proper maintenance led to increased wear and tear on vehicles, higher running costs and longer journey times.

The association has also raised concern about traffic congestion, particularly around ports and depots, as this adds significantly to delivery delays and further increases operational costs.

On inadequate parking facilities, NARTO had stated that the lack of safe and designated parking areas often forced drivers to park in unsafe locations, leading to security risks and fatigue.

It has also raised concerns about the multiple checkpoints in Nigeria, as numerous security checkpoints could cause unnecessary delays and harassment for drivers.

Another issue is delayed payments, as late payments from oil marketers create cash flow problems for transporters.

Also, the association has called for safety because the theft of petroleum products, pipeline vandalism and other security threats create risks for drivers and equipment.

On policy and regulatory concerns, NARTO had observed that some depots limit access to specific transporters, impacting competition and efficiency.

It stated that inconsistent or ambiguous regulations could lead to confusion and enforcement challenges, adding that transporters often struggled to access affordable financing for vehicle maintenance and upgrades.

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