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Petrol transporters pick holes in PIB, insist on representation in commission

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The Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) being harmonised by the National Assembly ahead of passage on Thursday faced fresh criticism from the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), which mainly haul petroleum products across the country.

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The group, while noting that the efforts being made on the legislation are commendable, insisted that some sections of the bill were unacceptable.

The National Assembly had passed the two-decade-old bill last week. But there have been growing opposition from trade groups, industry players and oil-producing region against parts of the bill.

The restriction of license to import refined petroleum products to a small number of local refiners provided for in the bill may worsen the prevailing situation in the downstream sector of the industry, especially in the areas of inefficiency and corruption, National President of NARTO, Yusuf Othman said Wednesday in Abuja.

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Noting that the haulage sector has always suffered in terms of scarcity of products and limited access to loading locations, Othman said: “We are seriously taken aback by the provision in the bill restricting importation license to only local refiners.”

According to him, all hands should be on deck to ensure that the PIB does not limit the importation of PMS as currently provided in the bill.

Othman stated that since the PIB is expected to ensure competition in the downstream oil and gas industry, provision to the contrary would make waste of all our collective efforts in that regard.

He said further that the composition of the board members of the industry regulator expected to be created by the new bill will be transparent and fair if the association is considered on the board.

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“There is no denying the fact that Transporters play very pivotal roles in the effective and efficient distribution of petroleum products across the country and their experience and expertise can never be overemphasised. It is in the light of this that we call for our inclusion in the boards of the industry regulator(s) most especially in the downstream sector of the industry as it will further strengthen in ensuring effective and efficient distribution of petroleum products across the nation,” he noted.

With huge investment in the haulage business, Othman said it remained critical for the PIB to provide adequate encouragement and incentives to IOCs and indigenous oil producers to invest in the refining sector of the oil and gas industry.

“We strongly believe that such incentives will help in bringing in the much-needed investments in domestic refining.

“As the two chambers of the National Assembly meet to harmonise their positions, we earnestly plead that these issues be taken on board as they would further enhance the possibility of harnessing the full benefits and potentials of the bill to enable it to meet the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians,” Othman noted.

He pledged the group’s support for the bill, stressing the need to accord the document accelerated assent by the president.

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