Government has to design a faster way of paying bridge claims
The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, (IPMAN) has urged the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) to quicken the payment of bridging claims.
The Operations Controller, IPMAN, Mr Mike Osatuyi, in an interview with New Telegraph, said fast-tracking payment modalities of bridging claims would appease marketers who are threatening to embark on strike. He also said it would help to avert nationwide fuel crisis.
According to Osatuyi, it will resolve the looming fuel scarcity as a result of the threat by the northern chapter of IPMAN to totally withdraw their services after a three-day warning strike, demanding settlement of bridging claims of N76 billion allegedly owed by NMDRA.
Osatuyi said: “There is no longer threat of fuel scarcity. It has been resolved and work has resumed and there is no problem. Authorities and the northern chapter of IPMAN have had talks and resolved their differences. “I believe that it has been resolved and government has had meetings with them and promised them that the payment will be sped up. “Petroleum Equalisation Fund (FEF) or bridging claims is still existing.
They have not cancelled it. So, government must pay the bridgers the transport cost. These people borrowed money from banks to finance their operations. “It is a revolving issue. If government does not pay them, how would they maintain their trucks?
“So, government, as they have promised that they will speed up the process of bridge payment, yet the authority needs to verify the process so that they will pay genuine claims, also they are using Aquilla. “It is not that you submit the bridge claim or invoice today and they pay you in an hour’s time or in three or four days.
No. It has processes and they also need to be careful so that they will not pay the wrong claim, otherwise, they will say it is a fraud.” He added: “But at the same time, government has to design a faster way of paying bridge claims; government needs to reduce the time of paying them so that it can be faster and there will be no noise again. “Bridge claim is a revolving thing.
Today they are incurring fresh claims, tomorrow they will also get new claims yesterday they also got fresh claims based on the number of trucks that move round the country. “So, you can not pin it down that they are owing so amount on a particular day. There are so many tickets that have not been submitted, but they have done their work.
“They can shorten the process. If you have been doing something for five years and it takes you two weeks to complete the process, you can also review it and see how it will take you 10 or 11 days. “That is efficiency and improvement. So, if it has taken Authority to very claims from the day of submission. They can put a process to fasten the payment. It is possible.”
The northern chapter of IPMAN had embarked on a threeday warning strike, demanding settlement of bridging claims of N76 billion allegedly owed by the NMDRA. The marketers threatened to embark on an indefinite strike and also withdraw their services at the nine depots across the northern states.
The spokesman of IPMAN, Maiduguri chapter, Alhaji Abduljadir Musa, during a media briefing, said the Forum had resolved to embark on a three-day service withdrawal at the nine northern depots of Maiduguri, Kano, Kaduna, Gombe, Yola, Gusau, Mina, Suleja and Yola. Their strike caused queues in some petrol stations, especially in the Federal Capital Territory, (FCT) Abuja and some other areas.
However, NMDPRA, has said that it disbursed a total of N103.037 billion between December 2021 to August 2022 as bridging claims to oil marketers. NMDPRA, in a statement, added that it had a meeting with the Northern Independent Petroleum Marketers Forum (NPMF) on September 5 amd 6, 2022 with the participation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited,