By Yemie Adeoye
CONTROVERSY has continued to trail the call by the Federal Government for Nigerians to consider the usage of alternative fuel as a means to solving the lingering fuel scarcity currently rocking the nation and crippling businesses.
The minister of petroleum resources Dr Rilwan Lukman had appealed to the general public to embrace the use of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) as alternative fuel in the face of the lingering fuel crisis across the nation during the inauguration of the three CNG stations and a kit conversion workshop constructed by NIPCO PLC through a joint venture initiative by NIPCO PLC with the Nigerian Gas company (NGC) under a new outfit – Green Gas Ngeria Ltd.Benin , Edo state.
The minister pointed out that the use of CNG offers lots of benefits over other vehicular fuels including a net reduction of about 35% in transportation fuel cost on current liquid fuel.
Stakeholders and industry watchers who spoke with Vanguard on the governmentâ€™s took a unanimous stand in condemning the federal government seeming lackluster attitude towards the issue of gas as they demand that the government creates incentives to be used in getting Nigerians to jettison their petrol dependent live for gas.
One of them who spoke on the condition of anonymity queried the reason why government is not making a categorical statement, especially as it concerns the issue of importation of the conversion kits for CNG cars as well as gas pricing.
â€œIt is not enough for government to just appeal to Nigerians to start using CNG as against petrol when they donâ€™t even know the price of the commodity.Â Government has found it increasingly difficult to fix the price for this commodity and also to grant tax holiday and import waivers where necessary so as to bring down the price of the conversion kits which currently hovers around N200,000 to N250,000.
The simple truth should be told no Nigerian who struggled to get a tokunboh car would be willing to come and change his fuel supply system to CNG fo a whopping cost of N200,000 its simply expensive and out of the peoples reach and rather than appealing to people to convert government is suppose to take decisive steps in ensuring that the people are properly sensitised and the price should be made affordable so that Nigerians could take advantage of the enormity of this resources and enjoy better livelihood.â€he said.
Dr. Lukman had stressed during the commissioning in Benin that in order to exploit this benefit, government planned to support the conversion of two million vehicles to run on CNG within the next five years across Nigeria.
He noted that in the same vein, the joint venture initiative -Green Gas Limited will be encouraged to put into operation another five CNG Stations by the end of March,2010 and also construct at least three CNG Stations along Benin-Lagos highway.
Dr Lukman enumerated the projected account of the implementation of the CNG project to include :Savings in foreign exchange by way of reduced importation of refined fuel, relief to FGN due to the reduced subsidy on liquid fuels for vehicles, elimination of sole dependency on oil refineries, creation of new business in the country and provision of additional employment opportunities.
Other benefits, he listed are: reduced movement of heavy tankers on roads resulting in enhanced road safety and less pollution from these heavy vehicles leading to healthy city life.
The minister stated that the project is unique in several respects as it only shows the avowed commitment of the Federal Government towards resolving the fuel crisis in Nigeria but also proves the efficiency of the public-private partnership in the form of the dedicated joint venture efforts of Nigerian Gas Company, a subsidiary of NNPC and NIPCO PLC resulting in the birth of Green Gas Nigeria Ltd.
He commended the forward looking initiatives of the company which also entails the supply of Piped Natural Gas (PNG) to the commercial and Industrial consumers from gas pipelines being laid in Benin City.