Fuel scarcity spreads


Long queues have been reported at filling stations in many states of Nigeria as fuel scarcity spreads, even as the Federal Government agencies gave assurance that there is enough fuel to go round.

Affected are Bayelsa, Kano, Zamfara, Anambra and Katsina states.

The petrol scarcity, especially in most state capitals, had given rise to black marketers, who operate freely along the major ways, selling at exorbitant prices, at times up to a minimum of N250 per litre.

In Bayelsa, the NNPC mega station in Yenagoa, was the only filling station dispensing petrol at the official pump price of N97, though long queues had subsisted in the last one week.

Other filling stations selling, notably five out of the over 30 petrol stations in the state capital, were reported to be selling between N120 to N150 per litre.

A commercial motorist, Mr. Jude Awoniyi said that it was better to wait patiently at the NNPC mega station, than to be exploited by the private oil marketers who sold at exorbitant prices.

Only last Saturday, a team of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), on a surveillance patrol, sealed up the Agip petrol station at the Edepie Roundabout in Yenagoa, for selling at N110 per litre after conspicuously displaying N97 on the metre.

An operative of the DPR team, who refused to identify his name, said that they had information that AP was selling above the official price of N97 per litre, hence they decided to visit and confirm the information.

In Katsina, vehicle queues have resurfaced at filling stations in the metropolis following reported shortage of petrol. But the fuel was sold at N97.

It was however observed that, over 30 filling stations were not selling the commodity either because they did not get supply or hoarded it for higher profit.

The queues started on Monday in the state capital.

When contacted, Alhaji Muhammad Sani, Operation Controller, state’s Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), said the problem was not from Katsina as most of the filling stations had no fuel.

In Gusau, Zamfara state capital, filling stations in the state have continued to operate fully despite reported long queues in the Federal capital on Monday.

The independent and major marketers served customers with few pumps at the fuel stations.

All the filling stations visited in Gusau and its environs, did not show any sign of products’ shortage, especially petrol.

The situation was not different in Kano, as long queues of vehicles resurfaced at filling stations in Kano metropolis.

In Kano and other major towns of the state, queues emerged on Tuesday at filing stations which had the stock.

The check revealed that most of the filling stations with stock belonged to major marketers while a few were owned by independent marketers.

Some of these marketers were said to have closed their filling stations in order to maximise profit by selling to black markers.

The black marketers exploited the situation by increasing the price from N550 per gallon (four litre) to between N600 and N650.

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When contacted, the chairman of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) Kano branch, Alhaji Bashir Bello blamed the situation on inadequate supply of the commodity from the NNPC depot.

According to him, many members of the association have paid for supplies since last week but have yet to receive the consignment.

‘’We learnt that loading of the commodity has been suspended at the NNPC depot in Kano.’’

Effort to contact the NNPC depot Manager to comment on the situation failed as he was said to be attending a crucial meeting with other top officials at the depot.

Contrary to what obtained in most states, fuel supply in Lokoja, the Kogi state capital, remained stable.

Although most of the fuel stations were selling, there were queues.

In Awka, capital of Anambra state, the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise known as fuel has hit N110 per litre in the city.

Around Awka on Tuesday, most filing stations sold fuel for between N105 and N110 per litre.

Some marketers who spoke said the current problem was a reflection of the general challenge associated with products’ availability in the country.

The Secretary of Petroleum dealers in Anambra, Charlse Jideani, said the problem with fuel supply and pricing were beyond the control of marketers.

He appealed to customers in the state to bear with marketers as they made effort to ensure there were products in the state.

Jideani called on the Federal Government to address the major factors affecting fuel supply such as putting the refineries and deports in the country in good shape.

Meanwhile, The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has assured that contrary to reports of imminent shortage of premium motor spirit (petrol) in the country, there is enough of the product to last a minimum of 30 days.

This clarification was made by Mr. Fidel Pepple of the Group Public Affairs Division of the Corporation in a statement made available to journalists.

He explained that there is no truth in the reports of imminent nationwide fuel scarcity as the Pipeline and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of the Corporation, has enough fuel in the country to meet national demand for at least 30 days, even if all the local refineries were down and there was no importation.

“What we have discovered is that there is panic buying of fuel as a result of reports that some marketers have stopped importing fuel and that NNPC does not have enough to go round. But the true position of things is that we have enough PMS to meet national demand for a minimum of 30 days even if all our local refineries were down and there was no importation,” he stated.

Mr. Pepple noted that major marketers had not been importing fuel for some time now due to reasons that are public knowledge, and that all the while NNPC as a national oil company has sustained supplies to the national economy.

“As the fuel supplier of last resort to the nation,’’ Pepple added, “NNPC will ensure that there is no shortage of supply.’’

He called on marketers and fuel station managers to desist from hoarding or diversion of the product as any marketer caught will be sanctioned. He noted that operators of some filling stations in Abuja metropolis have taken advantage of the panic buying and are creating situations that encourage exploitation of hapless motorists.

He also urged members of the public to avoid panic buying as adequate measures have been put in place to ensure free flow of petroleum products across the country.

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