As Nigerians groan from the effects of the current fuel scarcity, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has wielded the big stick against erring fuel marketers. Mohammed Saidu Public Relations Officer for the agency revealed this at a press briefing help in Abuja.

Saidu also stated that the DPR, had been unaware of the diversions, because they were intervention products by the NNPC. These products being smuggled are meant for intervention in areas with poor supply.

Recurrent offender

One marketer, A.Y. Maikifi diverted between 115 trucks between December 2017 and January 2018. In response to this, the agency fined the company 1.2 billion. There was, however, no word on if the company is currently operating.

The allure of smuggling

Porous borders and the price disparity between pump prices in the country and her neighbours, make smuggling a lucrative affair. While Nigeria currently sells petrol officially at $0.48 per litre, Togo sells at $0.94 per litre. The Republic of Benin also sells at $0.96. Chad currently sells petrol at $1.07 per dollar

Fines are not enough

Fines levied against the marketers are not punitive enough, as the problem continues to be a persistent one. A. Y. Maikifi is yet to pay the mega fine. The DPR needs to go beyond fines to shutting down the operations of such rogue firms.

Why dealing with smugglers is necessary

In response to the crisis, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has increased the amount of petrol it imports into the country. Yet, the scarcity, especially in the Northern hinterlands, has intensified. The large illegitimate income the smugglers earn also make them a security risk.

Going forward

While some analysts have advocated for an increase in pump prices to lower the smuggling, the Nigerian government may be unwilling to do with elections nearby. A memorandum of understanding was signed with the Nigerien government for the construction of a refinery at a border town between both countries.

Nigeria also needs to strengthen her border security. If petrol can be so easily smuggled out of the country, contraband items are easily coming in.

Onome Ohwovoriole has a degree in Economics and Statistics from the University of Benin and prior to joining Nairametrics in December 2016 as Lead Analyst had stints in Publishing, Automobile Services, Entertainment and Leadership Training. He covers companies in the Nigerian corporate space, especially those listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). He also has a keen interest in new frontiers like Cryptocurrencies and Fintech. In his spare time, he loves to read books on finance, fiction as well as keep up with happenings in the world of international diplomacy. You can contact him via onome.ohwovoriole@nairametrics.com

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