A non-governmental organisation, Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), has raised the alarm over what it described as the nefarious activities of two Swiss commodities traders – Vitol and Trafigura, which it claims specialize in importing dirty fuels to West Africa, including Nigeria.
At a press briefing in Abuja on Thursday, the executive director, ANEEJ, David Ugolor called the federal government’s attention to the dangers posed to the health of citizens by the two Swiss commodity trading companies, which allegedly take undue advantage of weak fuel standards in Africa to produce, deliver and sell diesel, Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and gasoline, which damage the health of the people.
According to him, their business model relies on an illegitimate strategy of deliberately lowering the quality of fuels for gain.
“Using a common industry practice called blending, Vitol and Trafigura and their conglomerates mix cheap and toxic intermediate petroleum products to produce what the industry calls African quality fuels.
“These products contain higher levels of Sulphur and other harmful poisons that can never be found in Europe and the United States,” he said
The ANEEL executive director explained that by selling such fuels and diesels at the pump in Africa, the traders increase external air pollution, causing respiratory disease and premature deaths.
“We all know that poor air quality poses serious risks to public health. As air quality declines, the risk of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic and acute respiratory diseases increases for residents of cities where the people rely on diesel to power their means of production,” he said.
He added that the dirty fuel shipped to West Africa by Vitol and Trafigura are known to burn very fast, equally leading to huge economic losses to vehicle owners in the African sub region.
“It is impossible to continue to remain silent about this problem, especially for the short and long term repercussions on the health and economy of our people. And therefore, the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), an NGO strong in the areas of anti-corruption, environment, poverty alleviation and good governance, in collaboration with a Swiss NGO, the Public Eye, formerly the Berne Declaration, have carried out this campaign against dirty fuels in the West African sub-region with the intention to address it,” he added.
The NGO further called on the federal and states governments and other stakeholders to, among others, work closely with the National Assembly to activate environmental laws that would check the illegitimate business activities of of the companies and increase the oversight functions of all regulatory bodies like the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and participate in setting up a task force in the sub-region to carry outa massive enlightenment against dirty fuel.
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