By Henry Umoru & Inalegwu Shaibu
ABUJA – THE Senate, yesterday, tonguelashed the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke and the management of the Petroleum Products Marketing Company, PPMC for ceding the powers of petroleum distribution to the various Unions, thereby causing pains on Nigerians.
The attack came when the Minister appeared before the Senator M
agnus Abe-led Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream). The meeting was called to proffer solutions to the perennial fuel scarcity across the country.
Senator Magnus Abe who noted that the practice was not acceptable to Nigerians, stressed that this has led to disparity in PMS being sold across the country as some filling stations sell at the regulated price of N97 while others sell at between N110 and N115.
But responding to the issue raised, the Minister said: ‘’I agree with you completely, it became a little difficult for the market to stabilise to government price. Besides, there has been a little issue due to subsidy payment.”
She also told the Senators that the Turn Around Maintenance, TAM of Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna refineries will cost $1.6 Billion (N251.2 billion), just as she disclosed that $146 million(N23.36 billion) has been approved for Port Harcourt refinery to begin within the first quarter of 2013. She added that TAM for Portharcourt this year was no longer feasible, but the three will now be ready by October 2014. The initial date for the completion of the TAM was April 2013.
She said: ‘’We have one or two slight lapses in the time line based on realities on ground, and we are therefore adjusting the timeline forward.”
Speaking further on the unions, Senator Abe said, ‘’Go back and address the problem at the depots; bring some sort of order to the loading points. When we visited some of the refineries and the loading depots, some of the marketers complained bitterly about how unions have taken over the duty of the PPMC.
‘’Some have been on queues since 2011 yet only NNPC trucks are allowed to load products. Human beings should not be treated like that. Check how the allocations are being done because we heard, in the course of our oversight that allocations are being done by the unions.
‘’I wonder how and why you ceded your powers to the union because you are ultimately responsible. We need to see changes please.”