Lagos - Some marketers on Thursday expressed concern over the shutdown of all loading depots of the Pipelines Products Marketing Company (PPMC) in the South West due to activities of vandals.
The marketers, who spoke in Lagos on condition of anonymity, expressed worry as over 2,000 trucks from various states in the South West now come to load at private depots in Apapa.
It has been reported that loading was no longer going on at Ejigbo Satellite Depot in Lagos and Mosinmi Depot in Ogun State although trucks were parked there.
An executive member of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) at Ejigbo Satellite Depot, who preferred anonymity, disclosed that it had been a serious challenge to trucks coming from Kwara, Ilorin, Ekiti, and Kogi to load at Apapa.
The source said that the current situation could lead to fuel scarcity if urgent steps were not taken.
According to the source, marketers have not also been able to load petrol in all NNPC depots in the South West since September due to pipeline vandalism.
"There might be scarcity of products soon because marketers now face serious problems getting the products in Apapa.
"We have over 4,000 trucks within the Western Zone that struggled to load products at Apapa due to non-availability of products at depots in Ejigbo and Mosinmi , but we hope that it will be resolved soonest," the source said.
At Mosinmi, a senior member of IPMAN urged Federal Government to expedite action to combat pipelines vandalism in the area to reduce loading challenges in the South West.
Another source at Mosinmi said that the depot had been shut since September 10 due to shutdown of system 2B pipeline network.
"Marketers have resorted to lifting the product from Apapa depot which is very expensive and time consuming.
"The shutdown of the pipeline by PPMC over incessant vandalism in Arepo is causing serious hardship," he said.
Chinedu Okoronkwo, National President of IPMAN, condemned incessant vandalism of pipelines, saying that the menace was causing huge losses to the economy.
Okoronkwo said that IPMAN had constituted a surveillance team to curb activities of vandals along the petroleum pipelines across the country.
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He, however, lauded government's initiative to curb incessant vandalism on pipelines network.
According to him, Federal Government is doing much is that direction to address pipelines vandalism as it is easy to spoil, but difficult to repair.
"Very soon, such will be addressed, l urge my members to bear with government on the ongoing challenges facing loading at Apapa.
"It is our collective responsibility to check and bring those pipelines culprits to book," he said.
Tokunbo Korodo, Chairman, NUPENG (South-West), said that there was the need for government to decentralise loading of products to make for effective loading at depots across the country.
Korodo said that concentration of few trucks at Apapa could not address the fuel scarcity challenges in the Western Zone.
He said that the absence of Navy officials at the private depots contributed to the challenges of loading of products.
"NUPENG is not on strike, we are fully ready to work with the present government in achieving its commitment to the general public.
"We are 100 per cent available to load at any time when the products are available. Government should also stand firm to fight corruptions in the country," he said.
Korodo lauded the Group Managing Director of NNPC for his efforts to find lasting solution to the oil and gas industry challenges.
Nasir Imodagbe, Manager of Public Affairs and Community Relations at PPMC, confirmed that the depots were shut down in September 18 and September 22, respectively due to pipeline vandalism that occurred in Arepo.
Imodagbe said that incessant vandalism of the pipeline contributed to the shutdown of system 2B pipeline network, adding that government had also put machines in motion to ensure adequate distribution of products in the South West.
"There is no cause for panic buying because we have 23-days products sufficiency.
"The issue of queue should not arise, Nigerians should not engage in panic buying due to speculation.
"Government has put in place a robust system that would ensure sufficient and effective petrol distribution chain network in the South-West," he said.