Marketers doubt Federal Government’s liquefied petroleum gas retail plan
Few months after the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) clamped down some roadside and illegal retailers of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), commonly known as cooking gas, some marketers of the product have questioned the workability of government’s policy to tackle the menace.
According to them, after the implementation of the pilot scheme tagged Micro Distribution Scheme by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources with the Nigerian military, the retail value chain hasn’t witness the enforcement of the policy outside the military barracks.
The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers (NALPGAM),Essien Bassey, disclosed that even though replication of the pilot generally will help standardise and structure the LPG retailing business in the country, stakeholders in the industry have reservations that probably halted its implementation.
Bassey mentioned that at the conceptualisation stage of the policy, government didn’t involve the necessary stakeholders, until the implementation; and at that stage, people can’t be forced to key into what they are not well informed about.
He explained that the scheme by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources hands the ownership of cylinders to the gas plant owners and also to assign selected distributors to them, but the issue of the person that pays for the cylinders and loyalty of distributors and customers haven’t been sorted.
Under the scheme, he noted that distributors are to register with various gas plants, and they would be licensed and given kiosk, a rack, a weighing scale, while customers will buy from them by exchanging their cylinder for an already filled one; a cycle he says continues till the system eradicates cylinder ownership.
Government, he continued, wants gas plant owners to invest in cylinder purchase under the scheme, and expect payment in instalments, but the monthly cost of instalment is higher than the profit on both the cylinder and the gas content, and that’s not feasible.
The NALPGAM representative told The Guardian that even though the regulator can continue to clampdown roadside illegal retailers of gas; it can’t be effective until the policy is rightly looked into.
Evidently, The Guardian gathered that in spite of all efforts by the regulator to close down roadside and illegal retailers, majority of them are still in operation and ignorant about the need to license their business, as well as unaware about penalties of illegal operations.
One of such operators around Isolo area of Lagos, said in a conversation that all that is needed to start the business is a good location, a big cylinder and knowledge of how to transfer the product from the bigger cylinder to the smaller ones, as there are no technicalities involved.
However, Bassey noted that the process of transferring gas from a bigger cylinder to a smaller, which is called decanting, is an illegal act adding that most of these retailers are unaware of the risk involved in such act.He further noted that government has yet to get back to them after their reservations about the implementation, but the regulator needs to increase their routine to clamp down more to avoid unauthorised influx into the sector.