04 December 2012, Sweetcrude, Asaba – Despite the presence of task forces set up by the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, to check the monopolistic tendencies of petroleum products marketers, who sell above the Federal Government official prices, marketers in the riverine communities, especially of Delta State have remained obdurate, as a litre of petrol currently sells for between N200 and N250 per litre.
This is about 150% above the government’s approved pump price.
In an effort to curb the activities of private marketers, the DPR had urged Nigerians to report any fuel station that sells petroleum products above the FG regulated price.
But this warning appears not to be for the marketers in the riverine areas, particularly those in Burutu local government area of Delta state.
The hapless residents of the local government lament that the solution to their plight seems far in sight, despite the presence of the NNPC Mega Stations in the area, floated since the past three years, but have never sold a single drop of petrol, thus, the residents have become accustomed to buying petrol at the black marketers’ own ‘official’ price of N200 to N250.
On why the NNPC Mega Stations were yet to commence operations , an indigene of Ojobo in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State, Mr. Zuokumor Pere said “the building of the NNPC Mega stations started during the late President Yar’Adua administration. The area surveyed for the project includes, Burutu which is the headquarters for Burutu Local Government Area, Ojobo, Ekrankoko, amongst other communities in the area.
Unfortunately, the ones for Burutu and Ekrankoko were established, pending the one for Ojobo community when President Yar’Adua died.
“With the emergence of President Goodluck Jonathan, coupled with the appointment of Diezani Alison-Madueke as Minister for Petroleum, we felt the project would be completed, but the reverse was the case. I personally have sent messages and called the Minister herself to draw her attention to the plight of the people in the riverine area, but none of my messages have been replied while calls are not answered”.
A youth leader in the community, Mr. Jude Angodideke while lamenting the non-functional state of the NNPC Mega Stations said, “The NNPC Mega Station is presently like a picture to us here. It is just here in the middle of the river like a government monument for the past three years without being of use. Nigerians in the upland region are lamenting that they are buying fuel within the range of N110-N120, but comparing this to the amount we buy here, you will discover that the amount in the upland is like a free price.”
One of the facilitators of the NNPC Mega stations project, Mr. Fred Brisibe, who was available for comments, said, “The NNPC Floating Mega Stations project was initiated by Tamaratare Brisibe, former Member representing Burutu Federal Constituency at the House of Representative, while he was the Chairman, Committee of Petroleum Resources (Downstream) at the House, to alleviate the challenges of buying petroleum products by the people of the riverine communities.
“I personally worked with the NNPC engineers, soil men and the surveyors on the establishment of the Mega Stations which was followed by its approval by the Delta State governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan through the then SA to the governor on Oil and Gas, Barr. Ekerekuso. So till date, I wonder why it still hasn’t commenced operation, but a couple of weeks ago, I learnt that the management of the Burutu NNPC Floating Mega Station, has been given to a contractor, in the person of Mrs. Carolyn Asari-Dokubo, who is also from Burutu LGA.”
On why the station was contracted to a private individual to manage, Mr. Brisibe attributed it to the inability of the Federal Government to man its facilities in the riverine areas, hence the need for a private contractor who was conversant with the security challenges of the area.
When contacted on phone, as to why the stations weree yet to commence operation, one of the NNPC Engineers who worked at the site then, simple known as Engr. Lawrence said, “These facilities are government owned and the delay is attributed to government logistics. The government must get who would run the facilities and modalities for payment must be concluded before commencement of operations. Work will soon commence on all the Stations, as personnel recently went to the stations to clean them up,”.
Until then, the people of the riverine communities, have to continue to buy petrol for upwards N250 per litre, from the local dealers.