The ongoing fuel scarcity has crippled business activities after Sallah break in Lagos and other parts of the country, even as strong indications emerged that the crisis may not abate soon.
The Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria(MOMAN) in a statement released on Wednesday attributed the challenges of queues in filling stations and product pricing to an almost insurmountable petroleum product supply environment.
This became evident as major filling stations in Lagos recorded long queues while others were under lock and key. Business activities were also affected as some workers who resumed work on Wednesday after a long Sallah holiday, were confronted with transport fare hikes.
Our correspondent who went round Lagos, noted that in most of the suburb areas of Lagos, petrol was sold at prices ranging from N180 to N220 per litre. It was discovered that most of the independent marketers got the product above official ex-depot rates.
As of Wednesday, transporters took advantage of the situation to jerk up the fare across the entire part of Lagos by 200 percent under the guise of fuel scarcity.
Our correspondent gathered that passengers heading to Obalende/CMS from Ojodu/Berger were forced to pay N1500 instead of N700.
Transport fare from Oshodi to Obalende was also increased from N500 to N1000 while that of Oshodi to Lekki was increased from N700 to N1500.
Fare for passengers heading to Lekki/Ikate/Jakande from CMS which used to be N300 was increased to prices between N500 to N600, while the fare for CMS and Obalende to Ajah was increased from N500 to N1,500.
The situation was the same in different parts of Lagos as passengers were stranded due to scarcity of commercial buses, while some had to walk long distances to pick up buses to their destinations.
Our correspondent who monitored the situation in Lagos Island, Victoria Islands, Lekki/Ajah axis, revealed that the situation was tougher, as most of the petrol stations deliberately shut down at intervals. This resulted in long queues as motorists were helpless.
Although the product was sold for N165 per litre, EnergyDay gathered that most of the filling stations barely sell for less than four hours.
As at the period of filing this report, most of the stations including Enyo, Petrocam, MRS, Pinnacle, Mobil and other filling stations within the axis were not dispensing products despite long queues in their premises. This afforded the black marketers the opportunity to make brisk business from selling to motorists and residents.
Residents and car owners in the area seen with Jerrycans who managed to get the products after spending long hours at the stations, complained that attendants charged them N500 per Jerrycan.
Motorists who spoke to EnergyDay said they resorted to buying from black marketers who sold the product at N300/litre instead of spending the entire day at the filling stations. They insisted that the cost had to be passed on to the passengers.
“When you come here as early as 5 am to fill your tank and you end up leaving by 2 pm, what do you do? So, I don’t blame them. It is the Government that I blame,” a commercial driver identified as Abayo said.
The Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has described the challenges of queues in filling stations and product pricing on the restrictive supply environment, extremely high international products costs and the almost insurmountable international logistics challenges occasioned by the unavailability of diesel and its ubiquitous place in the supply chain.
Mr. Olumide Adeosun MOMAN Chairman, in a statement sent to EnergyDay by the association on Wednesday, commended the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for the efforts put in making the product available.
According to Adeosun, there is an energy crisis impacting the world, in developed and developing countries alike, similar to the COVID-19 pandemic. He noted that countries have different approaches to dealing with the problem.
He said, “There is some energy nationalism going on, leading to some major refining countries hoarding petroleum products like diesel for local use as was the case with COVID-19 vaccines.
“Some developing countries are subsidizing the cost, leading to widespread outages in those countries. Most countries are allowing the price to adjust, leading to higher prices but with product availability.
The MOMAN Chairman however noted that the answer is somewhere in between subsidy and product market deregulation.
He further noted that since NNPC has been subsidising PMS (Premium Motor Spirit) for so long, the Corporation has been confronted with diminished capacity to deal with the current international energy crisis.
Adeosun said, “If the country had spent monies on subsidies, on education, health and infrastructure, Nigerians and Nigerian businesses would have been better equipped to face today’s energy challenges.
“However, better late than never. MOMAN believes that Nigeria needs to gradually reduce the subsidy of PMS while investing and perhaps subsidizing mass transportation and productive activities in such areas such as agriculture.
The MOMAN boss warned that every Nigerian has a role to play, adding that everyone must reduce consumption and find other ways to weather the current energy crisis. He insisted that no Government can make this painless.
He said, “Predictably, as a country, we shall be faced by the choice of queues and unavailability of products or increases in price at the right pace to make products available.”