16 September 2016, Lagos – A civil rights organisation, Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, has raised the alarm that two companies based in Switzerland, Vitol and Trafigura, are allegedly engaged in the importation of dirty fuel to Nigeria.
The ANEEJ advised the government to “work closely with the National Assembly and help to activate all environmental laws that will check the illegitimate business activities of Vitol and Trafigura.”
The Executive Director, ANEEJ, Rev. David Ugolor, at a press briefing in Abuja on Thursday, challenged the Federal Government to pay serious attention to the dangers posed to the health of the citizens by the development.
He also suggested that there should be an increase in the oversight function of regulatory bodies like the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, while a task force should be set up in the West African sub-region to embark on a massive enlightenment on dirty fuel.
Ugolor alleged that foreign companies “take undue advantage of weak fuel standards in Africa to produce, deliver and sell diesel, Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) and gasoline, which damage the health of the people.”
He alleged that the business model of the Swiss firms relied on an illegitimate strategy of deliberately lowering the quality of fuels for gain.
Ugolor said, “Using a common industry practice called blending, Vitol and Trafigura and their conglomerates mix cheap and toxic intermediate petroleum products to produce what the industry calls African quality fuel.”
According to him, these products contain higher levels of sulphur and other harmful poisons that can never be found in Europe and the United States. By selling such fuels and diesels at the pump in Africa, the traders increase external air pollution, causing respiratory diseases and premature deaths.
He said, “We all know that poor air quality poses serious risks to public health. As air quality declines, the risk of stroke, heart diseases, lung cancer, and chronic and acute respiratory diseases increases for residents of cities where the people rely on diesel to power their means of production.
“It is impossible to continue to remain silent about this problem, especially for the short and long-term repercussions on the health and economy of our people.
“Therefore, the ANEEJ, an NGO strong in the areas of anti-corruption, environment, poverty alleviation and good governance, in collaboration with a Swiss NGO, the Public Eye, formerly the Berne Declaration, have carried out this campaign against dirty fuels in the West African sub-region with the intention to address it.”