By Bode Jegede
As part of measures to ensure safety and smooth operation in the petroleum products distribution value chain, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), in collaboration with other stakeholders in the Petroleum Industry and the Federal Government, have activated the Safe-to-Load initiative to mitigate incessant petroleum products tanker accidents and ensuing fire outbreaks across the country.
The meeting of the stakeholders which held Wednesday at the NNPC Towers, Abuja was sequel to the initiative of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Haulage Operations in Nigeria aimed at ensuring safety in the whole gamut of bridging process across the country.
The Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari, said proffering a lasting solution to the challenge had become imperative given the frequent fire incidents from petroleum tankers with attendant loss of lives and properties.
A release by the Acting Group General Manager, Group Public Affair Division of the corporation, Mr. Samson Makoji, said Mallam Kyari stated that the corporation as a socially responsible entity placed high premium on the lives of workers and citizens, noting that safety was one of the core values of the organization.
“As an organization founded on operational excellence, NNPC has a safety checklist for loading of petroleum products from its terminals and is interested in ensuring harmonization of the Safe-to-Load checklists being used by all terminals across the country”, he said.
He stated that the corporation has commenced digitizing all its analogue-loading facilities to ensure that all trucks leaving the NNPC depots comply with the required axle limits, emphasizing that the corporation has kick-started installation of weigh-bridges and sprinklers across all loading gantries to forestall incidents.
The NNPC boss said that the corporation currently relies much on the land transportation system to get its products across various locations in Nigeria, stating that a total of 19.23billion litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) was moved by 583,000 trucks in 2018, while 526,000 trucks transported 17.36billion litres of PMS between January and October, 2019.
He hinted that efforts were on to fix the corporation’s pipelines to efficiently move petroleum products across the nation.
Kyari, who recognized the support of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, in the Safe-to-Load project, stressed that NNPC as a player in the hydrocarbon business in the country would continue to champion any cause geared towards efficient products distribution for the benefit of all Nigerians.
Speaking at the event, the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, who was represented by a staff of the SGF Office, Mr. Ademola Ali, said his office remained committed to ensuring safe roads for petroleum products distribution in the country.
Making a contribution at the event, National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) President, Alh. Kassim Bataiya, solicited the intervention of government in funding the subsector, saying safety on the road was a responsibility of all stakeholders, drivers, law enforcement agencies, among others.
He called for local manufacturing of vehicle components to curtail costs being incurred by transporters.
In his remark, the President, Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD), Mr. Otunba Oladiti, commended the management of NNPC for its consistent interventions in cushioning the hardships faced by tanker drivers in their task of distributing products across the country.
Mr. Oladiti expressed the view that fixing the roads should not be the sole responsibility of the government.
Earlier in his presentation, the President of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Comrade Akporeha Williams, lauded the corporation for always complying with all safety standards in all its depots and restated the union’s commitment to work with the NNPC management in ensuring the success of the Safe-to-Load initiative.
The event had representatives from the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, Federal Road Safety Corps, Federal Fire Service, the Nigerian Police, National Association of Road Transport Workers, Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria and Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria.
Others were: Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Petroleum Equalization Fund, Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).