From Uche Usim, Abuja
Nigerians may be plunged into a round of terrifying fuel scarcity if the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) makes bold its statement of withdrawing haulage service if the Federal Government does not urgently address the rising operation cost its members are battling.
Top on the list, according to the union, is the ever-increasing cost of diesel which petrol tankers run on and which is part of the determinants of freight charges.
The association’s National President, Alhaji Yusuf Lawal Othman, in a statement, stated that his members now find it difficult to remain afloat because of the high freight rate, which is regulated and paid in arrears.
He insisted that members will be advised to ground their haulage tankers if nothing was done to address the matter “because we can’t operate in such a way.”
He described the business environment as scorching and unbearable, adding; “Therefore, transporters whose freight rate is fixed and regulated cannot sustain the business if nothing is done.
“We can’t operate. We can’t work if nothing is done to increase the freight rate. The condition is unbearable because of the high cost of diesel.”
He urged the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) to urgently increase the freight rate to reflect the present cost of Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) diesel and spare parts.
He disclosed that the ex-depot cost of diesel soared to N401 per litre on Monday.
Othman lamented that it might hit N420 per litre at the filling stations if something was not done urgently.
The National President called on the NMDPRA Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Farouk Ahmed to urgently convene a stakeholders meeting to increase the freight rate and address other pressing issues of cost of operation.
He said: “We are appealing to the CEO of the downstream regulatory agency.
“He has to sit down with us immediately and ensure that the freight rate is increased to reflect the rising cost of diesel and other spare parts.”
Explaining about the rising cost of diesel, Othman revealed: “We have a problem. Today, the price of AGO ex-depot is N401 per litre. It means that in Abuja, Kaduna, Kano, it will reach N420 to N430. At the filling station it will reach like N450.”
On NARTO suggesting a new freight rate, the President said: “I cannot fix it. If I talk now the price will be higher. It is just to regulate our rising operation cost. It is as simple as that.
“Otherwise, our people have parked their trucks and more people are going to park.”