The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria has commended the Federal Government for approving importation of petroleum products by private firms.
Chinedu Anyaso, Chairman, IPMAN Enugu Depot Community in charge of Anambra, Ebonyi and Enugu States, said this.
Anyaso spoke while reacting to the development in Awka, Anambra State on Sunday.
The Managing Director of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, Farouk Ahmed, on Friday said private marketers could now import petrol into the country.
Farouk said under the new arrangement, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited had ceased to be the sole importer of petrol into Nigeria.
He said: “We put the regulation in place, we make sure quality control is complied with, we make sure the product is there and we give licence to any prospective importer.
“The market is now open for everybody that wants to import as far as they meet all the requirements.
“The NMDPRA will no longer fix prices or release templates for petrol.
“As far as we are concerned in the NMDPRA, this is not like before when the PPPRA fixes the price; in a deregulated market, it is the market force that dictates the price.”
Anyaso said this was a positive development and appropriate responses to the demands of marketers and Nigerian masses who had condemned the monopolistic grip of NNPCL on the oil and gas sector for decades.
He said this would create the much needed competitive pricing environment and allow market forces to demand price of products.
According to him: “Two days ago, I repeated the call that the Federal Government should issue import licences to private investigators, I also said it is wrong for the NNPCL, which is a private company, to be the sole importer and determiner of prices.
“I am happy that the same NMDPRA also announced that approval has been given to private importers.
“This is how it should be in a deregulated Industry.
“The competition that will begin in the coming days will surely ease the pain of high prices of products.”
Anyaso commended the Federal Government for its bold step and called on it to extend the same to refineries to complement the contributions of Dangote Refinery when it commenced production.
He said the four existing refineries should be repaired to produce at optimal capacity while licences are issued to more people who could build modular refineries.
He said this was the time to address the problem of Enugu Depot, which had been moribund for over 15 years and had made distribution of products in the zone difficult as a result.
He added: “We are appealing that as the government is addressing the issue of supply, they should also address the problem of distribution.
“Enugu Depot has not functioned for over 15 years, we need the Federal Government to fix it.
“It has not been easy for our members who source products from Lagos, Warri, Calabar and bring by road, the risk, accident and losses have been too much.”