01 October 2014, Lagos – Oil marketers in the country are exploiting loopholes in the regulation of their business to overload their tankers, which are meant to convey petroleum products from the depots to dispensing points like filling stations.
Investigations by our correspondent revealed that some tankers now load as much as 50,000 litres of petroleum products from the depots without being questioned. The accepted standard is 33,000 litres.
The development has resulted in the tankers damaging the road networks across the country, and being susceptible to accidents.
Normally, tankers are checked for overloading at the depots using weighbridges. This measure, however, no longer serves the purpose for which it was introduced as errant truck owners now bribe their way through. It was learnt that in most cases, errant truck owners were meant to pay an official sum if their tankers carried excess load.
The weighbridges are meant to detect excess load on tankers, with a recommendation that the excess be dropped.
A tanker driver awaiting to load product at a depot in Apapa, Lagos, told our correspondent that a good number of the trucks seen awaiting in the queue were from the North, East and South-South regions.
According to him, the rush to Lagos is because products are cheaper in the state compared to other parts of the country.
The Executive Secretary, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Obafemi Olawore, said that in most cases, the activities of union members at the depots were not allowing depot operators to carry out proper checks as required.
According to him, stopping a tanker for abusing laid down codes can result in strikes by the unions and possible blacklisting of the depots.
Experts have called for the proper implementation of the Petroleum Trucking Policy Project by the Department of Petroleum Resources, saying the move would make the haulage of petroleum products across the country safe and fast.
According to the regulator, over 70 per cent of petroleum products movement across the length and breadth of the country is currently done through tanker trucking.
The country resorted to petroleum products bridging because the pipeline systems have been in very poor conditions due to incessant attacks by vandals.
According to recent figures by the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company, millions of litres of refined products and crude oil are lost annually to pipeline vandals.
While admitting the problem, the DPR said, “These tankers, with their shapes ranging from rectangular to spherical, do not have standards for their capacities nor limits to the volume they can convey, while on the roads.
“These anomalies have regularly led to rollover of overloaded tanker trucks, spilling of petroleum products and the resultant fire outbreak as recently witnessed at a section of Port Harcourt in Rivers State.”
Globally, transportation of petroleum products by motor vehicles or railroad tank cars is regulated by government agencies.
Agencies such as the United States Department of Transport and the Canadian Transport Commission enacted regulations that govern the design, construction, safety devices, testing, preventive maintenance, inspection and operation of tank trucks and tank cars used in transporting petroleum products across their countries.