The Petroleum Equalisation Fund (management) Board (PEF) has set up a task force for the the immediate implementation of transportation of petroleum products through the rail.
The General Manager, Corporate Services of PEF, Dr. Goddy Nnadi, said the task force was set up by the Executive Secretary of the Fund, Alhaji Ahmed Bobboi for the implementation of the new equalization model.
The job of the task force has hit the peak in working out the logistics for a smooth take off targeted at early 2019.
He said that Bobboi, who is driving the process, has given the task force the matching orders to ensure that the take-off deadline was met.
Nnadi said that rail transportation of petroleum products became inevitable because of the potentials, especially in jobs creation, reduction of pressure and accidents on the roads.
The process would generate more revenue for the Federal Government since it would cost less to move products around the country as well as reduce rural – urban migration.
He named on other stakeholders in the project to include the National Association of Road Transport Workers (NARTO), Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) and PPMC.
He said that members of the task force had commenced the inspection of rail lines in collaboration with NRC to ascertain how the movement of the products would be effected, what quantity of products would be moved on particular rail lines and destination of products.
He explained that after review of the collaboration, it was discovered that NRC has enough tanks to transport petroleum products from Lagos to Kano.
Some major markets, he said, have shown interest in buying into the new equalisation model.
He said that the new transport arrangement would create opportunity for the construction of inland tank farms which in turn would cause the availability of jobs.
Another advantage of the new equalization model is that rural communities will be served better due to shorter distances to be covered by road in getting products to the hinterland, he said.
Apart from the financial cost implications, the constant use of heavy duty trucks over long distances took its toll on the roads, while lots human lives were lost to vehicular accidents.
On safety of products, Nnadi said that security agencies would soon be engaged to work our logistics on how products would get to destinations without hitches.
In a similar development, Nnadi said that plans have reached advanced stage to commence the equalization of cooking gas, LPG, by rail as a step in the efforts of the Federal Government to make the product available in rural areas at the cheapest cost.
He said that the move was also aimed at discouraging the use of firewood for domestic cooking on grounds that the felling of trees for firewood is a major contributory factor to deforestation and desert encroachment.
He said that there were chances that the federal government would ban the use of firewood for domestic cooking once cooking gas was made available and affordable to rural dwellers.
He added that the target was to protect the environment since Nigeria was signatory to the climate change treaty.
Nnadi said that a high level committee made of members from the offices of the Vice President, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Minister of Environment, DPR, PPPRA, Nigeria Gas Association, PEF among other agencies is already working out the logistics for the implementation of the project.
It will be recalled that failure of the rail system in Nigeria led to the transportation of all petroleum products by road across the country and this has been at a huge cost to the Federal Government.