For a long time, petroleum distribution across the country has been largely limited to road transportation, a situation many have blamed on the largesse of subsidies/equalisation funds paid out to marketers and truck drivers.
However, Goddy Nnadi, General Manager, Corporate Services of the Petroleum Equalisation Fund Management Board (PEF-MB), has said the new automated fuel management system and sensor network approved by the Federal Executive Council yesterday, will enable the creation of an equalisation model for petroleum product delivery to riverine and mountainous areas.
Speaking during a phone interview with SaharaReporters on Thursday, he said fuel has been more expensive in communities close to water and highland areas like Mambila, due to the difficulty associated with getting supplies into those regions.
According to him, the more diversified routes for petroleum distribution are, the easier. The new management system will enable petrol reach riverine places like Igbokoda in Ondo State and Mambila. Petroleum is more expensive in these places than the North, because of the difficulty involved in getting supplies to these terrains.
Some experts in the industry have claimed, over the years, that the PEF scheme, which was proposed as a temporal solution in 1975, was skewed towards the Northern region.
Speaking on the limitations of the Aquila software launched by PEF in 2011, Nnadi said the board was constrained by limited funds at the time the project was conceived.
His words: “You would have heard me, over the years, talk about Aquila Phase 1. This part of the project was focused on tracking products between loading and receiving depots.
“Right now, we can tell you how much are stored in tank farms across the country. The software was not designed to capture products brought into ports and those moved from receiving depots to filling stations. So, you could move a truck from Masimi depot to Suleja and divert it to Minna, instead of taking it into Abuja.”
One of the compensations paid out to retailers, is for the set-up of filling stations in rural areas, which makes it curious that Aquila did not cover the final lap of petroleum product retail.
Ibe Kachikwu had told pressmen, after the FEC meeting yesterday, of the approval of N17 billion for the design of the fuel management system.
“So, we expect this to be over a period of three years but we promise that within one year, the real effects of this will begin to show. Obviously, you need time to train and to continue to improve the system. We hope that by the time we start doing the 2020 budget in 2019, we would have gotten to a point where the losses that you are seeing are being tracked and substantially, impact will be made in monies that come into the federation accounts.
“It will help us keep proper data repository of consumption in this country, data on all trucks that operate, total number of products received, what is sold out of filling stations and it is going to be a collaborative system that involves NNPC, DPR and PPPRA, but situated quite frankly in PEF,” Kachikwu said.
In December 2010, Adefunke Kasali, the then Executive Secretary of PEF, had also said Aquila would be a data repository for information on product distribution and planning by government. She had also said it would help monitor the petroleum downstream sector.