Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources

Ahead of the expected increase in the local refining capacity of petroleum products in Nigeria, the Federal Government has made a strong case for massive investments in the development of Truck Transit Bays across the country by the private sector.

Recall that the Nigerian Shippers Council is currently championing the establishment of Truck Transit Parks TTPs across the six geo-political zones of the country, which would be a place where trucks and their drivers would congregate while they are in transit in the course of moving cargo from one point to the other.

Such projects are to be equipped with hotel facilities, recreational places, clinics, barber shops, fuel stations and other related placed where truck drivers could make a stop for a time before continuing on their journey to avoid fatigue that could lead to accidents, thereby reducing gridlock and carnage on the roads.

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, who spoke at the recently concluded two-day national summit on the establishment and management of TTPs organised by the Federal Ministry of Transport in conjunction with the Nigerian Shippers Council noted that there are projections for the country to refine over 650 million barrels of crude oil per day by 2019, which might further increase by 2020.

The Minister, who was represented by John Eboigbe, a director in the Ministry, therefore noted that there was urgent need for the development of needed infrastructure in anticipation of increased local refining capacity occasioned by the proposed establishment of private refineries in the country.

According to him, expected big names in the emerging upstream operators in the petroleum industry like the Dangote Group should begin to make huge investments in infrastructure that would ensure a hitch-free distribution of the refined petroleum products.

On the part of the Federal Government, he pledged that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation NNPC would provide assistance in the development of the truck bays, saying that part of the Petroleum Equalisation Fund could be channelled into such projects.

The Minister argued that the operators should not wait until 2019 when the refineries are expected to com on stream before they start making investments on the logistics that would aid the efficient distribution of the refined products, insisting that the time is now.

The Federal Government had given 2019 deadline for the stoppage of the importation of refined petroleum products into the country, which is a major source of dissipating the nation’s scarce foreign exchange earnings.

This deadline is against the backdrop of the expected increase in local refining capacity occasioned by the proposed establishment of private refineries.

Only recently, the government had licensed about 40 new modular refineries, having earlier revoked some licenses that were issued over two years ago, which were yet to be put to effective use.

It was also in line with the desire to achieve the 2019 deadline to end fuel importation in the country that the government is currently contemplating another Turn Around Maintenance TAM, of the existing refineries, which it had once described as scraps.

But sources say that the proposed TAM of the old refineries is to augment the capacities of the private refineries and also check a possible manipulation of prices if left in the hands of private operators of private operators, who might want to take undue advantage of the consumers.