The Jetties and Petroleum Tank Farm Owners Association has said it will from Wednesday (today) shut down its depots across the federation to press home its demand for payment of fuel subsidy.
The Executive Secretary of the association, Mr. Enoch Kanawa, made this known in an interview with our correspondent in Abuja on Tuesday.
JEPTFON owns 60 per cent of depots in the country, while the remaining 40 per cent belongs to major marketers.
Kanawa said contrary to claims by the FG that marketers were being paid, none of them had received payments for fuel importation.
He said operators in the industry were currently being owed over N200bn by the government for fuel imported.
This, he said, had led to a halt in their business operations since the banks had refused to lend them money to import fuel.
He said, “We are closing down our operation because it is not practicable to continue in business, since the operating environment is hostile and we believe that we need to be in business.
“Government can still go ahead with its investigation of indicted oil marketers but payment should continue so that we can continue to import products.
“We have collected money from the banks and interest rates are running and all these things are financial burden on us and we are also owing banks.
“So at the moment, the banks are not ready to give us more money to import, and as a matter of fact, many of us have run out of products and within the period, we have been forced to pay salaries and some of us are owing salaries.
“At the moment, we are contemplating retrenching some of our workers when we close down our jetties.
“Government is owing over N200bn to our members generally in the industry for this year alone. We don’t know who they say they are paying. Maybe they are paying those briefcase people because we are not aware of any of our members that have been paid. So we have no option than to close down operation tomorrow.”
Efforts to get the Minister of Finance’s Senior Special Assistant on Communications, Mr. Paul Nwabuikwu, to react to JEPTON’s claim that none of its members had received subsidy claim, did not succeed.
He did not pick calls to his mobile phone neither did he respond to a text message sent to him as at press time.
But the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had in a statement on Friday said N42.66bn had so far been paid to marketers between April and July.
She had said, “We would also like to stress that marketers with legitimate and unencumbered claims have been paid and will continue to be paid as these details show.”