Stakeholders are worried that the inability of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to fix its 21 depots has been a major factor to the incessant fuel crisis across the country.
This is even as the Chairman of the Ejigbo Satellite Depot of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Mr. Ayo Alanamu, has raised the alarm that out of the nine storage tanks at the facility owned by NNPC, only one was functional.
The situation at the Ejigbo depot can be described as a replica of what is obtainable at the 21 depots owned, managed and maintained by NNPC across the country.
While the NNPC has consistently claimed that its depots are in good shape and receiving products as at when due, the reality on ground, according to Daily Sun investigation, suggests otherwise.
Investigations by Daily Sun across some of the NNPC depots in the South West, which included Ejigbo, Mosimi, Ore, Ibadan and Ilorin revealed that loading activities at the depots were far below installed capacity. Ore has been out of service for eight years and Ilorin shut down for five years.
For some of the depots still managing to get products to dispense to marketers, allegations of graft were equally slammed on the managers, who they accused of colluding with private depots to divert products meant for NNPC depots.
The IPMAN depot Chairman, who spoke to Daily Sun complained about inadequate supply of petroleum products, obsolete facilities at the depots, which has forced many of them out of business, while the few remaining had to resort to travelling to other depots to load products, thus creating fuel scarcity and compounding the congestion within the Apapa corridor.
Reasons for the worsening fuel scarcity within Lagos and its environs emerged, with the declaration by IPMAN that only one storage tank out of nine installed at the Ejigbo depot was functional.
The inability of the 21 depots to function at optimal capacity has been a source of worry to stakeholders in the downstream sector, especially members of IPMAN.
Chairman, Ejigbo Satellite Depot of IPMAN, Mr. Ayo Alanamu, in a recent interview, appealed to NNPC to rehabilitate all the moribund storage facilities which make up the western zone effective distribution of petroleum products and put an end to shortfall of products.
He said the only one out of nine storage tanks functioning in Ejigbo depot has further compounded the chaotic traffic situation within Apapa and its environs as long queues of tankers waiting to load product has made the axis impassable for Lagosians.
According to him, marketers hardly load 50 trucks from the depot due to the dilapidated state of the storage tanks there.
“We appeal to the Federal Government, through the NNPC, to revive all the damaged tanks so as to increase the fuel storage capacity to 200 trucks daily. Government should ensure effective repair of all the dilapidated storage facilities within the western zone to beef up storage and loading capacity to at least one million litres of petrol daily. This will address the frequent fuel challenges in the country,’’ he said.
Like the Ibadan depot, the Mosimi depot in Shagamu, Ogun State, is another of such operating far below its installed capacity.
The Ibadan depot constructed in 1978 for storage and distribution of petroleum products to the western part of the country has failed to live up to the visions of the founding fathers as loading of products at the facility has been epileptic.
And to bring it to optimal utilisation, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mr. Maikanti Baru, had in September 2016, inaugurated four petrol storage tanks to restore the original combined storage of 87.70 million litres for the four tanks, which has also increased by 220,000 litres.
But despite the rehabilitation claim, the Chairman, South-West Zone of IPMAN, Mr. Debo Ahmed, said that pipeline vandalism and inadequate pumping of petroleum products from System 2B, at Mosimi, to Ibadan was also a challenge.
Chairman, IPMAN, Ore Depot, Mr. Shina Amao, said the depot has been shut down for over eight years. He said the dilapidated state of the pipelines to the depot has made it practically impossible for the depot to come alive.
He said repeated attempts by IPMAN to ensure that NNPC puts the depot to use have not been successful, adding that discussions were still ongoing to ensure that the depot bounces back.
Also speaking, Chairman, IPMAN Depot, Ilorin, Alhaji Okonlawon Olarenwaju, said the depot has been out of service for over five years, jeopardising economic activities.
He said the closure, according to NNPC, was as a result of pipeline vandalism, which, he said, should have been addressed by now. He said that apart from Ibadan depot, Ilorin is also a major depot that boosts petrol distribution to the North Central and hinterland, adding that lack of product supply to the depot remained a major setback.
When contacted, the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs of NNPC, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, said credit should be given to the current administration for bringing back some of these moribund depots that have been out of service for over five years, back on stream.
He assured that the management of NNPC was doing all it can to ensure that all NNPC depots are brought back on stream.
“We have worked on Ejigbo, Ibadan, Kano, Aba and part of Atlas Cove. Our target now is to move into Enugu, Makurdi, Ilorin and later Ore,” he said, explaining that product availability at depots is a function of supply. He stressed that NNPC being the sole importer of fuel has slowed down activities a bit because the major marketers have stopped importing.
He, however, regretted that marketers supplied by NNPC at the official ex-depot price were selling far above the approved price of marketers. He assured that the relevant government agencies responsible for monitoring and compliance with approved petroleum product prices are not resting on their oars and will come after such marketers, adding that NNPC cannot be everywhere.