NIGERIAN Customs Service (NCS) has announced a reduction in the amount of petroleum products people living within 20 kilometres to an international border will be allowed to purchase as part of its ongoing campaign to combat smuggling.
Last week, President Muhammadu Buhari extended Nigeria’s ongoing border closure programme until January 31 as part of the government’s plans to limit the influx of cheap imports through neighbouring ports like Cotonou in the Republic of Benin. Of late, Nigeria has sought to limit the volume of her imports by stepping up the production of goods such as cement and rice in a bid to save foreign exchange.
As part of this bid to combat smuggling and the influx of goods into the country at least 57 borders have been shut across Nigeria since August as the government intensified steps to curtail the influx of foreign products. This border closure has already started taking a toll on the nation’s economy, with citizens complaining of shortage of rice and other essential products.
Stepping up the pressure, however, the NCS has imposed fresh fuel restrictions in a bid to prevent petroleum products being smuggled across Nigeria’s borders. According to the NCS, petroleum tankers can no longer go beyond 20km inwards of an international border as the government believes that petrol is being smuggled to neighbouring countries through the border communities, mainly due to price differentials.
About a month after it announced the border closures, the Nigerian government revealed that the volume of smuggled petrol to neighbouring countries had reduced. According to Nigeria’s Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), from the data obtained between August 12 and 18, there was a drop of about 35% in the volume of petrol trucked out of the country against the figures recorded last year.
PPPRA spokesperson, Kimchi Apollo, said records from various depots nationwide between August 5 and 11 this year revealed about 61m litres of petrol was loaded and trucked-out by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. He added that this represents the average daily trucked-out volume before the border closure.