Floating petrol stations built on the Niger Delta waterways by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to ease maritime transport have been abandoned by the corporation.
It was gathered that two of the floating filling stations located in Nembe and Oporoma waterways in Nembe and Southern Ijaw Local Government Areas stopped selling petroleum products a long time ago.
The inability of NNPC to operate the stations, which are sited at the middle of the river, was said to have compounded the problems of travelers and boat operators.
Among other things, it was gathered from maritime workers that the stations were established to supply fuel to boat drivers and far-flung communities at the same regulated pump price.
Following their inactive conditions, boat drivers were said to be buying their products from private vendors, who sourced their products from illegal refineries.
But other independent marketers, whose stations are located along the jetties, were said to be selling the products above the regulated pump prices and in most cases engaging in under-dispensing and other sharp practices.
Speaking on the development, the immediate past Chairman of the Maritime Workers Union, Bayelsa State chapter, Mr. Loyd Sese, confirmed the abandonment of the NNPC floating stations.
He said the one sited in Nembe worked some years ago before it became inactive adding that the station at Oporoma sold fuel only twice since its establishment.
He said: “The two NNPC floating stations located in Bayelsa are not working. Some years ago, the one in Nembe worked but was later abandoned. The one at Oporoma maybe supplied fuel twice and never worked again.
“The purpose of setting up the floating filling stations was to ease the pains of maritime workers and make quality products available to boat drivers. It was also designed to reduce maritime transport cost.
“Ordinarily, the NNPC filling stations on land dont sell fuel in gallons. But boat drivers make use of fuel in gallons. So, when they go to other stations owned by independent marketers to buy, they dont buy them at the same regulated price. And it had impact on transport cost.
“Therefore, the floating filling stations were set up to recognise these challenges and ensure that the drivers get products at the regulated prices. But these objectives have been defeated because the stations are not working”.
Sese pointed out that the NNPC may have abandoned the stations after discovering that it was costly to run them and still sell products at regulated prices.
“I think they discovered that it is difficult to operate them based on their cost implication. First, they have to use a barge to transport the products to the locations of the filling stations. The cost of hiring the barge and moving the products will make it difficult to still sell the products at regulated prices.
“I advise the NNPC to bring the stations close to the jetties especially to Yenagoa jetties where tankers can easily supply them products to sell to boat operators.
“Instead of allowing these filling stations to waste away, they should move them to Yenagoa jetty or waterfront and move the one at Nembe to Nembe jetty since there is a road leading to Nembe now”.
When contacted, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Operation Controller, Yenagoa Field Office, Mrs. Ejiro Ufondu, said the DPR would soon pay attention to the floating stations