From Uche Usim, Abuja
Private and commercial motorists have lambasted the federal government for asking them to part with N250,000 to convert their vehicles from petrol to autogas or Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) or Liquified Natural Gas (LPG), describing the development as scathing.
Justice Derefaka, the Technical Adviser, Gas Business and Policy Implementation, to Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva at 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, however, differs from Sylva’s, who in September, promised Nigerians that the government would convert the vehicles of Nigerians to run on gas for free to cushion the effects of the hike in pump price of petrol.
Speaking with Daily Sun, a motorist, Emmanuel Adeh, described the conversion as expensive and poorly explained.
“I thought the Government said it would be free charge to convert. Why are we now asked to pay? What sort of vehicles can be converted? Is there an age ceiling for the vehicle? 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 take a decision.
“If one is travelling and runs out of gas, where can one get a refill? 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.
“I can manage to pay the N250,000 conversation fee. But what of the retail outlets to refill?
“The should be aggressive roll out of these services. It’s 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, we have to pay. It is a sad disclosure”, he said.
However, on the television programme on Wednesday, Derefaka, 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 have 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 for roadworthiness and then proceed.
“The owner of the car basically will decide to say I want to run on autogas or CNG or LNG and like the honourable minister had mentioned before, conversion has basic strands, you can partner with your bank and the bank will now agree with the conversion centre to convert your vehicle, not for free entirely.
“The installer will now put some form of mechanism that each time you buy the gas; a certain amount will be deducted to pay for the conversion kit. Some people will say it is too expensive but I don’t think it is because within a period of five to seven months, you’ve already paid off the cost.
“The cost varies, it depends on the cylinder of the vehicle but on the average, it is around N200,000 to N250,000 and this is for a four-cylinder vehicle but it becomes a little bit higher for a six-cylinder vehicle.”
Derefaka noted that some centres had started the conversion already.
He said, “If you take your vehicle to some of the centres like the one commissioned yesterday (Tuesday), technicians and original equipment manufacturers are there so you can bring your vehicles for conversion to start running on gas.”
He also said 50 conversion centres would be upgraded and by January 2021, there would be conversion centres in the six geopolitical zones of the country.