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Abuja fuel crisis to persist for a while –Sylva

Fuel queues are to persist in the nation’s capital, Abuja even as the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approveda total sum of N22.449 billion for projects in the Ministries of Petroleum ResourcesandEnvironment. These were disclosed by the Minister of Environment, Muhammed Abdullahi, and the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Timipreye Sylva at a briefing after the Council meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa Wednesday. Abdullahi said the Council awarded the contract for consultancy services and design of Centre of Excellence for Environmental Restoration with an Integrated Contaminated Soil Management Centre at the sum of N449,250,040.50 (VAT inclusive). The Petroleum Resources Minister, in his comments, told newsmen that the Council approved the award and procurement for the provision of a Conference Hostel Facility in Yenagoa, adjacent to the NigerianContentTowersatthe sumof N22billiontoMegastar Technical Construction Company with completion period of 24 months.

Responding to questions on the persistent fuel queues in Abuja and some other parts of the country, the minister said that the situation, particu-larly in the FCT, would persist for a while until fuel is finally deregulated. He explained that the fuel queues were not caused by shortages in supply of fuel but bythereluctanceof petroleum marketers to sell at the recommended retail price. According to him, there were queues in Abuja because selling at the recommended N165/litre of fuel was unprofitable to the marketers who resolved to take the advantage by diverting products from the city centre to where they could sell above the recommended retail price.

“If you look at it, there are no queues when you leave Abuja. In most places, only in the Abuja metropolis do you continue to have these queues. So, is it that there is less supply to Abuja than to the rest of the country? It is not so. It is because if you go out of Abuja, they can probably afford to sell at higher prices. And I’m sure a lot of you must be buying at higher prices. But within Abuja, because of the watchful eye of the Federal Government, they cannot sell at those prices. So it’s not a very attractive market for them. I think these are all things that we might have to be dealing with for a while until we’re able to fully deregulate.”

Giving updates on the rehabilitation of the nation’s refineries, Sylva said the Port Harcourt Refinery would soon become operational adding that the Dangote Refinery would commence operation by January next year. On why Kaduna and Warri Refineries’ workers were still drawing salaries even when they were not producing anything, the minister explained that most of them have been redeployed with few others doing skeletal services to prevent pilfering at the facilities. “But I can assure you that most of the workers in the refineries have been redeployed to other parts of NNPC,” he said




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