THE Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) has warned its members against diversion of fuel to illegal outlets saying that those caught would be made to face sanction.
Chief Ikechukwu Nwankwo, Chairman of Enugu Depot of IPMAN gave the warning in an interview with newsmen in Awka on Tuesday.
Nwankwo said though the association was out to protect its members, it must be those operating within the laid down rules of the industry.
He said the increasing cases of suspected diversion of fuel by members was disturbing, warning that IPMAN would not rise in defence of any marketer found wanting.
“Whoever is diverting products is doing so at his or her own peril; it is between him and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).
“IPMAN Enugu depot will not be associated with, or get involved in cases of diversion.
“We don’t encourage it because it is against the law and against the common good of the people.
“Any person that loads product should take it to the intended destinations, discharge it there and dispense it there,” Nwankwo said.
He called on the Federal Government to constructively engage the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN) on their agitation for subsidy payment, to prevent them from embarking on strike.
Nwankwo said the fuel situation in the country would get worse if DAPPMAN members stopped loading products into parts of the country.
He called for a holistic approach to solving the lingering fuel scarcity in the country, especially by fixing of the nation’s ailing refineries.
“Government should address the agitation of the depot owners on the payment of subsidy; government should pay or dialogue with them and not allow the 14-day ultimatum they gave to elapse because it will worsen the situation.
“The payment of Petroleum Equalization Fund to our members is another challenge we are having because sometimes it takes between seven months to eight months before we get paid.
“There is the scarcity of product; harassing marketers with the DPR cannot solve the problem.
If there is the product, all the NNPC mega filling stations and mini filling stations will have fuel, and naturally, the marketers will fall in line.
“Our refineries should be made to work. If they are working optimally, we cannot be talking about importation, and as far as we are relying on importation, we will continue to have this problem.
“So, whether it is repair of the existing one or building of modular refineries, what we need is the availability of the fuel in Nigeria,” he said.
The IPMAN chairman said marketers attached to Enugu depot had lost over 40 trucks to road accidents in their efforts to source fuel from other locations.
He urged the Federal Government to fix the pipelines and restore the facilities at the Enugu depot that had been moribund for over a decade, to reduce the business risks of his members.
“There is no way you move from here to Lagos and you will not see two or three tankers that have fallen on the road. “How we wish our depot in Enugu is working, it will reduce the hazard involved in travelling to Warri or Calabar or elsewhere to get the product.
“For example, in the last one year, our members have lost not less than 4o trucks loaded with petrol on the road where we went to buy, and this is a huge loss to us.
“This is why we are calling on the Federal Government to help us fix the pipelines and the depot itself that has been down for about 12 years. This will improve the lives of marketers and customers around here,” he said.