Goddy Nnadi, General Manager, Corporate Services of the Petroleum Equalisation Fund Management Board (PEF-MB), has said a high level task force has been set-up to start distributing petroleum products and cooking gas through rail lines by the beginning of 2019.
Nnadi said members of the committee had begun the inspection of rail lines in collaboration with the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) to plan the execution of the transition, after the team discovered that the NRC had enough tanks to move products from Lagos to Kano.
The PEF spokesperson admitted that the constant use of heavy duty trucks over long distances took its toll on the roads and caused loss of human lives. He added that rail transportation of petroleum products was inevitable due to its potential of creating jobs and reducing money spent on subsidising road transportation.
Nnadi noted that some major marketers had shown interest in buying into the new equalisation model.
Through a complex web of funds called bridging funds, inter-district scheme and National Transport Average (NTA), PEF re-pays marketers and truckers for ensuring petroleum is available in the remotest parts of the country, through the set-up of filling stations; for ensuring the price of petrol is uniform across the country, and for ensuring products are moved between depots in view of damaged pipelines.
When the idea of making the price of petrol products was conceived in 1975, it was thought up as a temporal solution to facilitate the distribution of these fuels to the farthest ends of the country. The NRC was present at initial interministerial discussions. The rails were somehow ignored when implementation began.
Nnadi said an advantage of its new equalisation model will be the improvement of service to rural communities due to shorter distances to be covered by trains in getting products to the hinterland.
PEF has, since its inception, paid NTA to tankers who move petroleum products 50km or 100km from a depot, depending on the zone.
Nnadi also said the government would consider placing a ban on firewood once it can get affordable cooking gas to rural areas.