Abuja-The Group CEO of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, Mr. Mele Kyari, has assured transport owners that the challenging business environment in haulage of petroleum products across the country would end soon.
Kyari, who spoke at the 24th Annual General Meeting/Conference of the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners, NARTO, said the company valued the huge contribution made by NARTO to the effective distribution of petroleum products that ensured hitchfree supply during last Christmas and New Year season.
Represented by the Executive Vice President, Downstream, Mr. Adedapo Segun, Kyari described NARTO’s job as “national service”, urging them to persevere as good times would return to the sector.
“We have the responsibility as NNPC to take care of supply and distribution of petroleum products. We can’t do that without the support of NARTO. We are pleased with the role of NARTO in recent times.
“I will be failing in my duty if we don’t acknowledge the role you played in ensuring that we dealt with the problem of fuel queues during the Yuletide.
“We see NARTO as very important stakeholders. We feel your pains; we understand how difficult the terrain is, especially at this time, seeing that so much investment has been put in this economy but the situation at times makes you worry about the viability of that investment. “I would like to enjoin you to continue to do what you are doing. There are always good times and tough times.
“We know that tough times never last but tough people and association like NARTO do. The time will come when you will enjoy the benefit of the perseverance we are going through today and that day will come very soon,” he assured.
In his speech, the National President of NARTO, Alhaji Yusuf Lawal Othman, lamented that despite the deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry in May last year, transporters had not been allowed to determine the freight rate for petroleum products.
Othman, who admitted that freight rates had been raised four times in the five years, said: “While the deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector is commendable, it has introduced a substantial challenge in determining freight rates.
“In a theoretically free market, freight costs should be dictated by demand and supply dynamics, with rates negotiated between marketers and transporters. However, achieving this has proven difficult. “Despite our operational costs, particularly in foreign exchange and diesel, skyrocketing to unsustainable levels, marketers consistently refuse our requests for freight reviews, citing government restrictions on adjusting PMS pump prices, even when international market prices for the product increase”.
He lamented that road transport owners had had to face increasing challenges, including bad roads and insecurity.
“The persisting issue of inadequate road infrastructure in the country remains a significant impediment to the seamless movement of people, goods, and services.
“Despite substantial funding allocated by the federal government, such as N1.6 trillion and N621 billion in NNPC Limited tax credits, numerous critical road rehabilitation projects are still incomplete. The situation may worsen during the rainy season.”