The Edo State Chapter of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) has commended the management of Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC) over the reopening of the Benin depot shut since 2005, describing it as a genuine transformation programme for the people.
According some members of the Benin Chapter of IPMAN who spoke with our correspondent, the reopened depot will further boost distribution and supply of petroleum products in the South-south geo-political zone and to a large extent, South-west, adding that the plight of the people for the past eight years has been alleviated with the reopening.
John Ilevbare proprietor of Ilevpet & gas Ltd, Benin city, told our correspondent that that before the stoppage of supply of products to the depot, marketers used to get as much as ten trucks every month on each product but now, marketers hardly have two trucks in a month sources from other parts of the country. “The situation worsened as it now takes almost a month for one marketer to get a product but with this new development, we believe there will be improvement in the volume of petroleum products to Benin depot, the people going to Warri to load will now have to concentrate here”.
He further stated that the reopened depot will trigger a lot of business activities around the area. “It will create empowerment and multiple employments for a lot of people in the area.
Since 2005 when the depot was shutdown, economic activities in the depot area were paralysed. But now ancillary businesses will surely spring up again, so daily the people count their gains. “In the next couple of weeks to come, the area surrounding the depot will experience a beehive of business activities such as pay phone centres, hair cut and hair dressing saloons, provision stores, electrical and electronic shops, restaurants and hotels. There will also be food sellers, vulcanisers, mechanics, commercial motorcycle riders (okada) as well as hawkers of various items,” he said.
Similarly, George Odion, a marketer based in Benin said that it is a thing of joy that Benin depot has come alive again after eight years it was closed. “We are more than happy and we believe that scarcity of petroleum products in this axis will come to an end because definitely, the depot will supply enough products that will go round and people will not have any reason to hoard or sell above recommended pump price. It will trigger competition and marketers will be looking at turn over as it was before and not huge profit,” he said.
He however appealed to other marketers to support government initiative in making petroleum products available in the country by ensuring that the pipelines are protected as that is the only way continuous pumping of products to the depot will be guaranteed. “I appeal to our colleagues to support this initiative because in the last eight years, life has not been easy for some of us. Most of us had to go to Warri, Port Harcourt and even Lagos to source for products but now it is available in Benin. We must use all we have in our disposal to ensure its continuity. The reopening will reduce accidents and other road associated risk on the high ways. Instead of going to Lagos to load, one can easily load in Benin, “he said.
It could be recalled that an elated governor Adams Oshiomhole who led a team of prominent Edo State government officials and dignitaries to the reopening event last week said with the re-activation of the Benin Depot by the minister, the Federal Government has demonstrated its resolve to sustain the ongoing reforms in the oil and gas industry.
“The honourable minister has demonstrated that indeed good things can come from the petroleum industry as well as the NNPC,” he said.
The former president of the Nigerian Labour Congress recalled how he had to embark on what he termed a “pilgrimage” to the Warri refinery at the inception of his administration, to solicit for the supply of petroleum products to Edo State.
“I thank God that I don’t have to make such long walk to Warri again because the Benin depot is back to service,” he said.
He pledged to mobilise the resources and people of Edo State to combat pipeline vandalism, which he described as a national menace.
Constructed in 1978 and commissioned on August 30,1979, the Benin depot comprised 17 storage tanks with a combined design capacity to hold 121, 720,000 litres of petroleum products- namely premium motor spirits, House hold kerosene and automobile gas oil. The facility has nine loading arms.
The depot serves as a link for products evacuation from the Warri Refining and Petro-Chemical Company via a 16-inch pipeline traversing 89.9km.