By G9ija

The Federal Government yesterday disclosed that it has paid petroleum marketers over N58 billion as bridging cost in the past five months.

A statement by the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) in Abuja explained that of the amount, N34 billion went directly to members of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN).

The Authority’s reaction came a day after IPMAN threatened to shut down their operation over N500 billion debts owed them for bridging petrol.

The agency explained that the “administration of bridging payment is a continuous process as hundreds of trucks load and discharge products daily thereby adding to the claims”.

It noted that “since December 2021, the NMDPRA has made several payments to marketers whose claims have been verified. So far, over N58 billion has been disbursed to oil marketers out of which about.

“We wish to stress that the total amount disbursed so far is the highest ever paid within a 6-months span by previous fund administrators, which implies that the reimbursement of marketer’s transportation differentials for petroleum products movement from depots to sales outlets is a priority to the NMDPRA.

“In addition, Freight Rates were recently reviewed upwards to reflect current market realities and stimulate investments in the transportation of petroleum products in the country to ensure uninterrupted distribution.

“It is pertinent to note that some of the pending payments is due to the reluctance of marketers to reconcile their claims, in spite of the Authority’s continuous appeal to come for reconciliation whenever there are discrepancies”, it stated.

In a related development, with no sign of long queues at petrol stations in Abuja abating, the NMDPRA has assured consumers that the NNPC has sufficient petrol to last over 47 days, translating to about 2.65 billion litres.

It said there was no need to panic “as the current situation being experienced in some parts of the country will soon stabilise. To address this, some loading depots have been directed to operate on extended hours to enable increased truck-out. In the interim, the vessel discharge operations have been reviewed to fast-track truck loading and distribution in order to meet increased demand”.