May 30, 2024

Nigerians, experts blame NNPCL for fuel scarcity, return of queues

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Ilenre Irele

The current scarcity of premium motor spirit popularly called petrol in parts of the country, which has led to return of queues across the country, and attendant hike in transport fares is yet another reminder of the insincerity of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation Limited, NNPCL, the sole importer of the product.
Nothing captures the dilemma of ordinary Nigerians who are once again, amidst rising cost of living, made to pay more for their transportation than the reaction of Dr. Olufemi Omoyele of the department of Entrepreneurship at Osun State University when he said ” what is the PIA turning to, I think the its implementation is meant to settle fully the issue of deregulation and liberalization. So, why is it that it’s only NNPCL that has access to forex to make import when it has changed to private limited company? What happened to other importers, and we say we are implementing PIA? The energy analyst then lashed out at NNPCL for gross inefficiency. ” The issue of fuel scarcity is one of the greatest crimes committed by government against Nigerians, in fact it’s treason. We have this oil, invested heavily in refinery, looking at the humongous funds used to turn around PortHarcourt refinery, yet, it’s yet to pump oil.We are supposed to have 20 percent stake in Dangote Refinery, yet it has in the face of this acute scarcity yet to pump fuel for local demand. Who is fooling who.”
He condemned the prevaricatory ambivalence in NNPCL’s explanation that the current scarcity was due to supply hitches, which it said had been rectified as of NNPCL’s statement last Thursday, yet queues keep growing across the country.

The scarcity which initially was only severe in Abuja, Nasarawa, Niger and some other states in the North had by the weekend became a serious challenge and has lingered by Monday.

Recall that fuel queues first reared its head on Wednesday , leaving many motorists wondering what could be wrong.

In its initial reaction, The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited had stated that some supply issues were responsible for the queues, urging customers to exercise patience. As Nigerians are in uncertainty, drivers who have complained of spending hours to get fuel in few petrol stations who are dispensing took advantage of the situation to hike cost of transportation, leaving many Nigerians to resort to trekking.

This development has spurned a dramatic hike in the price of PMS in several parts of the country.

Several filling stations in Lagos hiked the price of PMS to over N700 per litre.

A resident, Otunba Adeyemi Adejumo , National President of the Yoruba Youths Agenda told EnergyDay that he purchased PMS from a filling station around the Lagos State Okota , stating that he was shocked when the attendant said fuel was now N700 per litre.

“This rude awakening came after I had already spent over 40 minutes on the queue,” he quipped.

Anthony Elan, a bus driver, said he left home very early in the morning, around 5.30 am only to meet a queue there.

“They sold it for N690 to me along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. I went back this afternoon to refill and they said it was N710. Some of the stations, I learnt, even sold for N715 and N720 per litre,” he said.

Sources told this medium that in Imo and Anambra states, filling stations with products increased their prices to as high as N800 per litre.

In Kaduna State, the situation was not different from what was obtained in Abuja, as most fuel stations were not selling petrol as a result of scarcity of the commodity, which was causing hardship for residents.

The few stations that were still in business had their pump price hiked to between N750 and N800, while the activities of black marketers boomed, with some of them selling a litre of the product for as much as N1300.

Our correspondent who monitored the situation in Kaduna-North Local Government Area, observed that some fuel stations adjusted their pumps to dispense the products at between N750 and N800 per litre.

The development forced many commuters to resort to trekking to their various destinations, with commercial transport operators capitalising on the hardship to increase transport fares.

In Abuja, motorists in the Federal Capital Territory struggled with long queues at fuel stations.

Across many filling stations in the Amac Area Council of the FCT, queues have for the past four days witnessed heavy lines of cars and other consumers at the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited station.

Many of the motorists approached for a comment expressed frustration, having waited for over two hours to access the fuel station due to the extended queues.

A motorist, who did not want his name mentioned, said, “I have been here since a few minutes past 9am, and it’s now 11:30am. Yet, I haven’t been able to purchase fuel. My mother called me; she needs to go to the market, and we’re already delayed because of this queue.”

Another motorist explained that he endured the wait due to the price difference between the NNPC station and other fuel outlets.

He said, “I’ve been here for more than two hours. They had been selling fuel only from one pump. Fortunately, the second pump is now open, making things faster.”

In this petrol station according to our sources the station was selling fuel to customers at N617 per litre.

Many filling stations in Wuye, the Central Business District, Wuse, Kubwa, and the Lugbe areas of the city sold petrol at prices ranging between N680 and N700.

However, the retail outlets of the NNPC continue to sell the product for N617 per litre.

Black marketers were also seen hawking petrol in jerry cans as interested motorists and other residents jostled to buy at prices ranging between N1000 and N1200 per litre.

Our correspondent who visited petrol stations Thursday morning found that some of the stations were shut while others were besieged by motorcyclists, tricycle owners, as well as private and commercial drivers.

A long queue was seen at the NNPC retail outlet along the Central Business District Area along Wuse Road. The situation was the same at stations owned by Shafa, NIPCO, A.A. Rano, TotalEnergies, Shema, and Conoil among other stations visited.

A car owner, Adio Wasiu told this medium that the reason for the fuel queue is unknown.

“I think there is fuel. In my opinion, the reason for the recent queue remains unknown. The government should just help Nigerians to bring sanity to the oil sector.”

Another car owner, Mohammed Abdullah put the blame for the queue on an anticipated crash in the price of fuel.

“Many Nigerians anticipated a crash in prices of PMS so I think that’s the reason why there are queues. Most marketers are also conscious of sudden price reductions,” he said.

It was gathered that a vessel commenced the discharge of petrol in Warri, Delta State, on Friday where most tankers that service the northern region load products from.

Many dealers confided in this medium that the discharge from the vessel would have been completed on Friday, while tankers might begin to load on Saturday or Sunday before transporting the product to Abuja and other states.

They strongly averred that until the tankers began to arrive in the Federal Capital Territory from Monday or Tuesday, the scarcity of petrol as well as queues for the commodity at filling stations would persist.

Abuja, Nasarawa, Niger, Sokoto, Gombe and some other states in the North have been suffering from fuel scarcity since Monday. The situation grew worse on Wednesday and remained so till Friday.

Oil marketers told EnergyDay that the scarcity was caused by the shortage in PMS supply, as they disclosed that the retail subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited held a meeting with dealers on Thursday regarding the issue.

The meeting appeared not to have impact on the depressing situation which has brought untoward suffering to both commuters and private and commercial transport as the queues continued on Friday and has become worse on weekend down to Monday. This made many outlets that had the commodity to hike their pump prices to between N690/litre to N710/litre in Abuja.

Salbas filling station along the Kubwa-Zuba expressway, was said to have dispensed petrol at N690/litre on Friday and still had massive queues of motorists because many other outlets were closed.

Similarly, last Friday, the Royal Arms filling station on the Zuba end of the same expressway sold petrol at N710/litre. It also had long queues of motorists who seemed to have limited choices despite the high price.

The cost of petrol at NNPC retail stations was N617/litre, but most of their outlets hardly dispensed products due to the scarcity.

“NNPC Retail just told us that they had problems with logistics and they didn’t give us details about this. But I’m sure it will have to do with their supply network,” the National Secretary of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, John Kekeocha, told journalists when prodded to reveal the outcome of last Thursday’s meeting.

He further stated that , “However, as we speak, a vessel is discharging in Warri and they may start loading tankers by tomorrow or the day after. Most of the trucks from Abuja and the Northern states go to Warri to load.

“By Monday or Tuesday, the queues should start clearing, but before then, we are going to be seeing queues due to the shortage in the supply of PMS to Abuja and other states in the North.”

Kekeocha had earlier stated that scarcity in the North was due to PMS supply shortage in the region.

“It is obvious that there is a supply shortage in Abuja and other states that are close to the FCT (Federal Capital Territory).

“This is the reason many filling stations in these areas are not selling PMS, which, of course, has led to the serious queues you see in the few ones that are dispensing the product,” he stated.

Recall that NNPC had earlier shifted the cause of the scarcity to issues around logistics but stated that it had resolved the problem.

The Chief Corporate Communications Officer, NNPC, Olufemi Soneye, also urged motorists not to be involved in panic buying, because the national oil company and sole importer of petrol had enough products.

Soneye had said, “The NNPC Limited wishes to clarify that the tightness in the supply of Premium Motor Spirit currently being experienced in some areas across the country is a result of logistics issues, and they have been resolved.

“It also wishes to reiterate that the prices of petroleum products are not changing. It urges Nigerians to avoid panic buying as products are sufficient in the country.”

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