The Federal Government on Thursday disclosed that it was set to replace the use of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, also known as petrol, for transportation.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva disclosed this while addressing newsmen in Abuja. He stated that payment of subsidy on petrol was taking a huge toll on the finances of the country and the government was working on encouraging Nigerians to use compressed natural gas, CNG, as fuel for transportation.
The minister explained that the introduction of CNG as an alternative fuel would crash the cost of transportation and play a crucial role in eliminating the huge burden of subsidy payment.
He said, “If you ask me if we are thinking of reducing the pump price of fuel, I could easily say yes; and I am sure all of you would wonder why I said that. Why I could say yes, is that we are thinking of giving the masses an alternative. Today, we are all hooked on PMS, what we want to do going forward, is to see that we are able to move the masses to CNG. This is what I call the GSM treatment.
“In this country, people used to fight anytime the government wants to privatise NITEL. Nigerians kicked because there was no alternative, but when the masses were given GSM, and they got hooked to it; I for one, I did not know when NITEL was privatized and most Nigerians also did not know when it was privatized. Nobody kicked, because it did not matter to them anymore.
“What we decided is that we should try and give the masses an alternative. If we move the masses to CNG, that is, take transport vehicles in the first instance, for example, out of the PMS loop, and cause them to use CNG, you would see that it would become the point of contact of the poorest of the population, and even further down, take out a lot of people from the loop of PMS.”
He disclosed that presently, at between N95 and N97 per litre equivalent, CNG costs less than the subsidized price for PMS, unit for unit, which is N145 per litre. “That is why I said we want to even reduce the cost of fuel. That way, we know we are giving an alternative and Nigerians would use it and would not notice when the subsidy of PMS is removed. That is the alternative we are working on, and we would start very soon to roll out.
“Already, there is a pilot programme in Benin City, which has worked for a long time. About 4,000 vehicles are already on CNG in Benin. We want to expand that CNG programme across the country and we believe it is going to create a lot of opportunities for Nigerians and also give Nigerians a new lease of live because the commodity would be accessible,” he maintained.