(R-L) Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, GMD of the NNPC, Maikanti Baru, Managing Director of Oando Plc, Wale Tinubu and Mofe Boyo at the commissioning of the Lagos midstream jetty last week.
Downstream operators at the popular petroleum products loading facilities at Ibru-Ibafon jetty in Apapa have raised alarm that the number of petroleum laden trucks loaded at the depots has dropped significantly. The operators attributed to the fact that many of the tankers were usually trapped in the long traffic buildup leading to the tank farms.
Shipping Position Daily learnt that the average litre approved for a petroleum tanker is 33,000 litres. However, fresh indications have emerged that most fuel marketers are now violating this standard by constructing 65,000 litres tanks so as to reduce the number of trips they would make to Apapa.
Speaking on the matter, the operators told our correspondent that, some petroleum marketers have started building extra large petroleum trucks so that they can maximize their profit.
One of the operators who simply identified himself as ‘Baba Oando’ told Shipping Position Daily that many of the petroleum tanker drivers are no longer willing to come to Apapa to load products, a development which he warned might lead to congestion.
“When the trucks leave Ibafon jetty here, it takes them several hours and days before they could make it back here, as we are speaking now many of them are trapped at Mile 2 and other parts, all the name of accessing the tank farms. Some of my colleagues have been looking for trucks to load products since morning but we could not get, some of them are not even interested in coming here again”, he said.
Also speaking with our correspondent, Vice Chairman of the ASCON Unit of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) an arm of National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG);Mr Jimoh Owolabi lamented that the revenue accruable to the union has equally reduced in recent times due to the drop in activities. He said that the bad state of the Tin Can-Coconut axis of the Apapa-Oshodi expressway is the major cause of reduction in downstream activities.
Owolabi however lamented that heavy petroleum tankers were part of the contributing factors destroying government roads.
He said that petroleum tankers are also being short-changed by owners of the petroleum tankers. According to him, “the tanker drivers are usually paid the same peanut that their comrades driving 33,000 litres are given”
“Ordinarily, a 65,000 litre tanker is supposed to even pay higher union dues than what the approved 33,000 litres would carry, but these guys are not ready to comply” he complained.
Meanwhile, a reliable source in the sector confided in our correspondent that some of the 65,000 litre petroleum tankers were built by marketers to smuggle petroleum products across land borders in the country.
He said that such activities are more rampant at northern borders as well as Idiroko borders in Ogun State. He also alleged that customs officers usually feed fat on such petroleum product smugglers, collecting as high as N300,000 bribes.
“Some of these big petroleum tankers, you will see them taking product to filling stations that were constructed very close to the borders, but by the time you go there in the next two days to check the tanks after they have discharged, you would not see the product there again. The customs are aware of this” he alleged.