From Uche Usim, Abuja
Private and commercial motorists have lampooned the Federal Government over its N250,000 demand for conversion of their petrol powered vehicles to autogas or Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), describing it as outragious.
Justice Derefaka, the Technical Adviser, Gas Business and Policy Implementation, to Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva had in a television programme on Wednesday, disclosed that the conversion process will take at least seven hours at the various conversion centres across the country.
His position was however at variance from Sylva’s, who in September, promised Nigerians that government would convert the vehicles to run on gas for free to cushion the effects of the hike in pump price of petrol.
But speaking with Daily Sun in Abuja yesterday, a motorist, Emmanuel Adeh, described the conversion process as too expensive and poorly explained.
“I thought the government said it would be free of charge to convert. Why are we now being asked to pay? What sort of vehicles can be converted? Is there an age ceiling for vehicles? Where can we go for it? How much is a litre of autogas or CNG? All these are not there for us to access and make decisions.
“If one is travelling and runs out of gas, where can it get a refill station? I learnt it’s only available in major cities. We need sensitisation”, he said.
Another motorist, Mrs Pauline Johnson, urged the government to do more sensitisation programmes for the people to know what to do ahead of the exercise.
“I can manage to pay the N250,000 conversation fee. But what about the retail outlets to refill? “There should be aggressive rollout of these services, because it should be beyond politics please”, she said.
Ifeanyi Onuba another vehicle owner said the sudden turn around by the government to ask for N250,000 was unfair and deceptive.
“Government said it would be free conversion but now, they are saying we have to pay. It is a sad disclosure”, he said. However, while on a television programme on Wednesday, Derefaka, the minister’s aide who is also the Programme Manager, Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialisation Project hinted that there would be different payment approaches for the conversion, adding that vehicle owners could reach agreement with commercial banks to get their conversion done.
He said, “The conversion of your vehicle is not something that will take three weeks or seven days; it will take you around seven to eight hours because they (technicians) need to do a diagnosis of your vehicle to see if it is fit for conversion. After that, they will test its roadworthiness and then proceed.