FG to Deploy, Launch First Set of CNG Vehicles in May to Mark Tinubu’s One Year

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·     Considers buses, tricycles, targets one million automobiles by 2027

Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja 

The federal government has concluded plans to launch and deploy Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) vehicles for mass transit, starting this May, as part of activities marking President Bola Tinubu’s one year in office.  

Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, disclosed this in a statement, yesterday.

Onanuga said while considering buses and tricycles in addition, the government targeted about one million automobiles by 2027. He said the committee led by Michael Oluwagbemi was set to deliver cheaper, safer and more climate-friendly energy vehicles.

Onanuga said the committee had fulfilled some foundational reforms to enable the new CNG and electric vehicles deliver the future Tinubu promised.

He added that all was ready for delivery of the first set of critical assets for deployment and launch of the vehicles ahead of the first anniversary of the Tinubu administration on May 29.

The presidential aide assured that from the end of May this year, Nigeria would join the league of nations with large fleets of CNG vehicles.

The federal government provided N100 billion, as part of the N500 billion palliative budget, to purchase 5,500 CNG vehicles, being part of the many intervention programmes to cushion the effect of increase in petrol pump price on the masses. This included buses and tricycles, 100 electric buses and over 20,000 CNG conversion kits, spurring the development of CNG refilling stations and electric charging stations.

Onanuga stated that with necessary tax and duty waivers approved by Tinubu in December 2023, the private sector partners in the Presidential CNG Initiative (PCNGI) had responded with over $50 million in actual investments in refuelling stations, conversion centres, and mother stations. 

He stated, “Also, a safety policy document on 80 standards and regulations that must be strictly adhered to by operators has been developed and approved to ensure CNG conversions are done safely and reliably.

“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 use of more expensive diesel and PMS will gradually be phased out, when many vehicles, including trucks, run on natural gas, which our nation has in abundance in at least 30 out of the 36 states of the federation.”

Onanuga stressed that one of the main causes of air pollution was the amount of gases emitted by gasoline and diesel engines, adding that to mitigate pollution, some countries, like India, China, Iran, Pakistan, Brazil, Argentina, and Italy, have built fleets of natural gas powered vehicles, instead of going the route of relying on liquid petroleum products propelled vehicles, as natural gas vehicles reduce tail pipe emission by up to 40 percent.

He added that Nigeria’s commitment to this course would enable the country meet her nationally determined commitments (NDCs) under Paris Climate Accord to which it is a signatory.

According to Onanuga, “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 (SKD) components of the CNG buses. 

“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 current paucity.”

He said over 600 buses were targeted for production in the first phase that will be accomplished this year while a new plant on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway will assemble thousands of tricycles. 

“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. About 2,500 of the tricycles will be ready before May 29, 2024.

“Thousands of conversion kits for petrol powered buses and taxis that want to migrate to CNG are also ready with CNG cylinders. The federal government intends to provide them at subsidised rates, especially to commercial vehicle drivers to bring down the cost of public transportation.”

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. 

“Likewise, BOVAS is setting up eight stations in Ibadan, two each in Ekiti, Abuja and four in Ilorin. MRS is also involved. It is making efforts to announce where its refilling stations and conversion centres will be,” Onanuga added.

He also said NNPC Limited, which had launched an on-and-off CNG initiative in the past, was joining the new initiative and was soon expected to announce the locations for CNG refilling and CNG conversion centres nationwide.

The statement said PCNGI was working with 22 other agency-partners, including the Standards Organisation of Nigeria(SON) and Nigeria Automotive Design and Development Council, to deliver 80 Natural Gas Vehicle Conversion and Associated Appliances Standards for the country.

Onanuga said, “The Tinubu administration is an enabler of the evolving CNG industry.  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.”

He explained that the vision of the president to deliver one million gas vehicles could not be possible without the private sector, including the RTEAN, NA, NURTW and players in the downstream sector of the transportation chain and financiers. 

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