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Despite govt’s assurances, fuel scarcity worsens in Nigeria

  Despite the Federal Government’s promises that petrol scarcity would be over weekend, the scarcity of the product continued, yesterday in ...

 

Despite the Federal Government’s promises that petrol scarcity would be over weekend, the scarcity of the product continued, yesterday in Abuja, Lagos, Oyo and Ogun states.

Investigations by NigerianEye revealed that there were long queues in Abuja, Lagos and other states, mainly because of the difficulty associated with getting supply.

The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, also yesterday directed its members to start compiling names of marketers hoarding Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, commonly known as petrol, or selling above official depot price today.

National Operation Controller Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, Mike Osatuyi, said his members were still finding it difficult to source the product from depot owners.

According to him, independent marketers are still sourcing petrol at N190 per litre, against  government’s N148 per litre regulated price, thus making it difficult for them to sell at the N162/N165 per litre regulated price.

Consequently, many of their outlets were seen shut, while long queues of automobiles took over all available space at the stations.

In Abuja, queues at petrol stations grew longer at the weekend as the impact of supply disruption entered the third week, despite assurances of quick resolution by the Federal Government.

At filling stations monitored by NE, motorists explained that they queued for over four hours before they could obtain petrol at the city centre.

At the suburbs of the nation’s capital, the scenes were chaotic as motorists struggled to get into few filling stations dispensing petrol.

As expected, while motorists had difficulty in purchasing petrol, black markets openly hawked the product in kegs, with price ranging from N350 to N400 per litre.

Speaking to newsmen, the Executive Secretary of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN, Mr. Clement Isong, expressed optimism that normalcy would return at the end of the week.

Mr. Isong said MOMAN was working with government agencies to improve supply of petrol across the country.

He said: “The important thing now is to stop the queues and it is only after that we can go back and check how much it cost and then submit our bills to the government.”

He disclosed that while supply had improved greatly, it would take another week to restore normalcy “if we continue getting good supply”.

On his part, the Public Relations Officer of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, Chinedu Ukadike, who spoke from Port Harcourt, said getting supply had been particularly challenging for independent marketers.

 Ukadike said with the product not available at government-owned depots, independent marketers had  to resort to buying from privately-owned depots at a cost far higher than what the government regulated.

He noted that most marketers were struggling to cope with the crisis, saying “when we signed bulk purchase agreement, there was a quantity of petroleum product that the NNPC agreed to supply to us monthly in terms of allocation but now that agreement has been breached by the NNPC, we are  resorting to hustling for fuel wherever we can get it.

“That is because if you don’t do that, it becomes impossible for you to pay staff and pay several taxes imposed by various government agencies. The impact is serious on us and that is why you are seeing most filling stations shutting down.”

 Ukadike also expressed optimism that the supply difficulties would ease in the coming week, stressing that “the queues are still there and we are having challenges getting supplies. But I heard that a vessel is coming in (into Port Harcourt) by next week. The supply from the vessel will relieve the remaining congestions we have.

“The biggest challenge is the high price we are getting the product because it is only at the government depots that you can get supply at government approved rate. So with this vessel coming next week, it will help to alleviate the sufferings of the masses,” he added. 

The government had said that the distribution of petrol would soon normalise after it recalled the bad product imported into the country last week.

The government had given the assurance at a briefing in Abuja, adding that concerted efforts were being made to end the challenges in the supply of petrol.

It had explained that it was expecting over 2.3 billion litres of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, in the country by the end of February and that over one billion litres of the product were currently being distributed nationwide.

Also, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), Abdullahi Gaya, had also assured Nigerians that his committee would handle companies which imported methanol-blended Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, into the country.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, has directed its members to, from today, start compiling names of marketers hoarding Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, commonly known as petrol, or selling above official depot price.

Recall that the Union had Saturday given marketers 24 hours to revert to the official depots price of petrol or risk unpleasant consequences, claiming that unscrupulous marketers were selling PMS from the depots at prices above the official rate.

Speaking with newsmen yesterday, President of NUPENG, Prince Williams Akporeha, said “as a follow-up to the 24 hours ultimatum to the marketers, the union has directed members to, from tomorrow (today) start compiling names of marketers who are hoarding petrol or selling PMS from the depots at prices above the official rate for sanction.”  

On what is the nature of the sanction, he said: “We have to keep that our chest until the time.\

”“NUPENG in statement Saturday issuing a 24 hours –ultimatum to marketers through its President and General Secretary, Prince William Akporeha and Afolabi Olawale, respectively, among others, said “Our attention and empathy have been drawn to the harrowing experiences and pains of the general public due to the exploitative and unscrupulous activities and tendencies of Petroleum Products Marketers who taking advantage of the seeming gaps and teething challenges in the implementation of Petroleum industry Act to enrich themselves at the expense of the Country and the people.

““It’s an undeniable fact that the Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, is still under subsidy regime, and we find it disheartening and worrisome that these unscrupulous Marketers are selling PMS from the depots at prices far above the official rate.

““We are giving these Marketers twenty-four (24) hours with effect from midnight of Sunday, 27th February, 2022 to revert to official rate or we shall name and shame them as public enemies aside from other sanctions.“It is also disturbing that even though AGO, and DPK are deregulated, there must be some measures of checks and control over the prices otherwise the entire productive activities will be grounded.““We have it on good authority that it’s one Marketer that determines and fixes prices of these products for other Marketers to adopt leaving all consumers (domestic and industrial) at their mercy.““This unsavory situation is evidently clear from the cries of the airlines Operators, road transport Operators, factories Owners and private homes and offices. The Union cannot continue to watch as some cabals keep on exploiting the people and the nation.““We implore the general public to bear with us in whatever actions we deemed necessary against these exploiters.

““Painfully, we noticed the helplessness of the NNPC in this in view of the implementation of the Act and also noted that these Marketers are taking advantage of the newness of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authority to rip off Nigerians.

““The nation and the people are bleeding and in the absence of any decisive institutional intervention, NUPENG has decided to once again step up in the defense of the people, the nation and the industry.

““We are also by this press release directing all our officials in all our zones to start compiling lists of petrol stations that are in habit of hoarding products during the day and selling at nights at exorbitant rates for possible sanctions. These also include Petroleum Products depots that may want to be hoarding products because of our decision on this matter.”

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