By Clara Nwachukwu
LAGOS — In a bid to stem the large scale fraud associated with the distribution of petroleum products from the major depots to the hinterlands nationwide, the Federal Government, yesterday, commenced the electronic tracking and monitoring of distribution trucks.
About N15 billion is paid annually to petroleum products transporters, for distributing products nationwide, which is billed into every litre of product purchased by consumers.
The e-monitoring, code-named, Project Aquila, is the initiative of the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (Management) Board , which is responsible for paying petroleum truck drivers the cost of delivery or bridging from one destination to another.
The project kicked-off with about 2,000 registered petroleum trucks, beginning with test trials from the Conoil Plc Depot in Apapa, Lagos, until October 4, when the project will be fully streamed nationwide.
At the kick-off of the project, Executive Secretary, PEF, Mrs. Adefunke Sharon Kasali, said Aquila would eliminate fraudulent practices arising from fictitious claims, products diversion, and ultimately, scarcity associated with delays in the payment of bridging claims by oil marketers and transporters in the downstream petroleum sector.
“In the past 12 months, PEF(M)F has been able to detect and stop the payment of more than N400 million worth of fictitious claims,” Kasali said, adding: “With Project Aquila, the presentation of fake meter tickets to the board will be significantly reduced if not totally eliminated.”
The beauty of the new system, which she explained had undergoing fine-tuning for the past three years, is that claims can be paid within two weeks of the submission of application.
The PEF scribe also noted that the new system, the first of its kind that will confirm the delivery of petroleum products in Nigeria, is almost tamper or hacking proof, as the software is based on RFID technology, which experts say is “one of the most effective technologies in use for such transactions.”