By Etuka Sunday
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has decried the proliferation of fuel stations in communities with international land and coastal borders across the country.
NNPC lamented that the development has energized unprecedented cross-border smuggling of petrol to neighboring countries, making it difficult to sanitize the fuel supply and distribution matrix in the country.
Leading a top Management team of the corporation on a visit to the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (Retd), the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, revealed that detailed study conducted by NNPC indicated strong correlation between the presence of the frontier stations and the activities of fuel smuggling syndicates.
He said that the activities of the smugglers had led to recent observed abnormal surge in the evacuation of petrol from less than 35 million litres per day to more than 60 million litres per day, which is in sharp contrast with established national consumption pattern.
NNPC spokesman, Ndu Ughamadu in a statement quoted Dr. Baru to have explained that because of the obvious differential in petrol price between Nigeria and other neighboring countries, it had become lucrative for the smugglers to use the frontier stations as a veritable conduit for the smuggling of products across the border, saying this had resulted in a thriving market for Nigerian petrol in all the neighouring countries of Niger Republic, Benin Republic, Cameroun, Chad and Togo and even Ghana which has no direct borders with Nigeria.
“NNPC is concerned that continued cross-border smuggling of petrol will deny Nigerians the benefit of the Federal Government’s benevolence of keeping a fix retail price of N145 per litre despite the increase in PMS open market price above N171 per litre,’’ he said.