Cautious Optimism As Motoring Public Awaits CNG Vehicles Roll Out

 Cautious Optimism As Motoring Public Awaits CNG Vehicles Roll Out

 There was not much excitement when the Presidency on Sunday last week said it was ready to launch about 2,700 CNG-powered buses and tricycles before May 29 when President Bola Tinubu turns one year in office.

The Compressed Natural Gas CNG vehicle is a new vocabulary in the lexicon of Nigeria’s motoring public, a term suggesting escape from the strangulating impact of subsidy removal on petrol (PMS), particularly for petrol driven vehicles. 

The euphoria of excitement that greeted the talk of introducing this means of transportation to the commuting public some few months back appears to be waning, when reality dawns on most of the people that the compressed gas needed to fuel the cars are not cheap after all, when compared to PMS. 

Another major issue of concern to the motoring public is the high cost of conversion of a vehicle from the Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) to gas (CNG), which is as high as N350,000, which many see as a stumbling block for them to readily embrace it. 

The high cost of conversion and high cost of gas for fuelling gas driven vehicles has made the motoring public skeptical of accepting it as a viable option, considering the bleak economic climate and rising costs of the basic necessities of life, pushing many into spending more money on survival items than capital projects. 

Another fear expressed by the motoring public are the availability of feulling centres for their gas powered vehicles and availability of maintenance or repair spare parts when they begin to drive these vehicles. 

The announced roll out the CNG powered vehicles added that the Federal Government will deliver 100 conversion workshops and 60 refueling sites spread across 18 states before the end of 2024.

Mr. Bayo Onanuga, the Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, who revealed these, said, “about 2,500 of the tricycles will be ready before May 29, 2024, working towards delivering 200 units before the first anniversary of the Tinubu administration.” 

It added that in all, over 600 buses are targeted for production in the first phase which will be accomplished in 2024.

Part of Sunday’s announcement was the creation of a new plant on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway that will assemble the tricycles while Brilliant EV will assemble electric vehicles when it receives the Semi Knocked Down components.

The Presidency explained further, “The SKD parts manufactured by the Chinese company LUOJIA in partnership with its local partner to support the consortium of local suppliers of CNG tricycles are set for shipment to Nigeria and expected to arrive early in May.

“In collaboration with the private sector, the PCNGI is set to deliver 100 conversion workshops and 60 refuelling sites spread across 18 states before the end of this year.”

Four plants owned by JET, Mikano, Mojo, and Brilliant EV located in various parts of the country are involved in the assembly of the semi-knocked-down components of the CNG buses, Onanuga revealed.

He added “JET, which has received the SKD parts, is coupling the buses in Lagos and is working towards delivering 200 units before the first anniversary of the Tinubu administration.

“Brilliant EV will assemble electric vehicles. It is awaiting the SKD parts, which will arrive in due course. The electric vehicles it will produce are meant for states such as Kano and Borno, which do not have access to CNG for now.

“They will also be available in key Nigerian cities and university campuses. It must be noted that soon-to-be-completed gas pipeline projects initiated by the Buhari administration and being completed by NNPCL (the AKK Pipeline) will take gas into the hinterlands of North East and North West where there is a current paucity.”

Onanuga said the deployment of CNG buses and tricycles and the vision to get at least one million natural gas-propelled vehicles on our roads by 2027 will mark a major energy transition in our country’s transportation industry.

The Federal Government also plans to sell thousands of conversion kits for petrol-powered buses and taxis that want to migrate to CNG at subsidised rates, especially to commercial vehicle drivers to bring down the cost of public transportation.

The Presidency said as part of private sector collaboration, NIPCO and BOVAS are involved in offering refilling services for the CNG vehicles and also serving as conversion centres.

“NIPCO is setting up 32 stations nationwide to offer the services. The company has completed the set-up of four of the CNG stations.

In response to the fears of the expected first users of the Compressed Natural gas Vehicles, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited is now deploying Compressed Natural Gas delivery installations in all its filling stations across the country, NNPC’s Group Chief Executive Officer, Mele Kyari, announced last week Wednesday.

Kyari said the deployment of CNG installations across NNPC retail outlets nationwide was in accordance with the presidential directive on the purchase of CNG-powered vehicles by institutions of government.

He said, “We are pleased to mention that in line with the just announced presidential directive on the purchase of CNG powered vehicles by institutions of government, and in furtherance of the overall objective of broadening CNG as an alternative fuel for automobiles, NNPC is deploying CNG delivery installations in our retail stations across the country,” Kyari stated.

Also, oil marketers said CNG, when fully deployed, will be over 400 percent cheaper than petrol.

Mayor OluFunsho, an energy expert, said that the use of CNG to fuel vehicles would result in about 40 percent potential cost savings.

“To compare (CNG) with PMS, we will have a savings on fuel by about 30 to 40% circa and when you compare the mileage it’s probably just marginally better,” he said.

The main downside, he said, is that it takes a while longer to build the infrastructure for CNG “i.e the plants for holding CNG and load or refill locations compared to PMS outlets”.

Toyin Subaru, special assistant to the president on special duties and domestic affairs, had said CNG will cost N230 per kg as against petrol which is sold at a higher price.

“We are going to develop an app that will enable you to locate where a CNG station is located. We should be able to buy gas for our cars at N230 per KG as against the cost of petrol which is N680 per litre,” he said.

The presidential aide said this would help every Nigerian save about two-thirds of their transport cost.

Subaru added that the federal government plans to have one million CNG vehicles on Nigerian roads by 2027.

In another development, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, in partnership with the Presidential Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) initiative, has revealed that the CNG initiative will transform the lives of 25,000 Nigerian auto technicians. It also described it as a game-changer for the country’s auto industry that will provide gainful employment opportunities for thousands of technicians.

Nkiruka Onyejeocha, Minister of State for Labour and Employment, said the Presidential Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Initiative programme is aimed at revolutionising the country’s transport sector with cleaner energy.

The Minister commended the initiative’s commitment to upskilling and training 25,000 auto technicians, highlighting the importance of collaboration between the Presidential CNG Initiative and the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.

The initiative aims to introduce 11,500 new CNG-enabled vehicles and provide 55,000 CNG conversion kits for existing vehicles, stimulating economic growth, creating employment opportunities, and promoting a cleaner environment.

With a projected $2.5 billion investment by 2027, the Presidential CNG Initiative is poised to drive Nigeria towards a sustainable and prosperous future, where every citizen has the opportunity to thrive.

“This journey towards a sustainable and prosperous future, collaboration is key. I am proud to highlight the collaboration between the Presidential CNG Initiative and the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.”

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