AS long queues resurfaced in the country on Tuesday, marketers have blamed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for the situation.
The fuel queues were, on Monday, reported to have resurfaced in Sokoto, but by Tuesday morning, there were reports of queues in many filling stations visited in Lagos, Kaduna and Abuja.
Speaking with Tribune Online on Tuesday, the South-West zonal chairman of Independent Petroleum Marketers of Nigeria (IPMAN), Ahmed Debo, said the NNPC had been playing double standards by favouring the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMA) regarding supply of premium motor spirit (PMS), otherwise called petrol.
According to him, “NNPC treats private depot owners (DAPPMA) with priority, by giving them products while they now resell to our members at above the recommended ex-depot price.
“The recommended ex-depot price is supposed to be N133.30 per litre, but they are selling at N138 to N143 per litre.
“If we add other costs to it, we cannot sell at N145 per litre. So until NNPC gives us enough supply and makes us to be independent of the private depot owners, over 900 filling stations may be shut due to lack of products and the hardship may continue for long.”
Chairman, IPMAN Ejigbo depot branch, Ayo Alanamu, also chided the NNPC, adding that “its officials were collaborating with the private depot owners to create artificial scarcity.”
He said the NNPC management had invited IPMAN Lagos branch to a meeting at the NNPC Towers on December 14.
However, the NNPC had assured motorists that there was enough fuel at depots to last the yuletide and beyond.
NNPC spokesperson, Mr Ndu Ughamadu, in a statement, urged Nigerians to stop panic buying, reiterating that there was enough fuel in the nation’s depots.
Also in the statement, the corporation informed Nigerians that there was no plan whatsoever to increase the prices of petroleum products, both at the ex-depot level and pump price.
When Tribune Online visited Apapa depots, it was discovered that most marketers were selling between N138 and N143 per litre, as against the recommended price of N133.30 per litre.
According to a depot survey obtained from a source on Tuesday, ex-depot price at the companies showed Stallonire, N140 per litre; Sahara, N145.5; Forte Oil,
N140; TechnoOil, N142; Shipet, N143; Nipco, N133.28 and all majors were selling to other marketers at N145 per litre as against N133 per litre.
Most depots controlled by the Nigerian Pipelines and Marketing Company (NPMC), a subsidiary of the NNPC, were loading below capacity.
According to one of the marketers who pleaded anonymity, the depots serving the South-West, Mosinmi, Ejigbo, Ibadan and Ilorin depots, were loading an average of 20 trucks per day as against the usual 150 trucks per day.
He said Ore depot had been shut for over two years due to pipeline vandalism.
Another marketer at the depot who also spoke under the condition of anonymity said there were less activities at the depots due to an inadequate supply of the products by the NNPC.
According to him, “as you can see, we have enough products but the tankers have blocked everywhere, preventing smooth delivery of products.”
A source among the marketers stated that NNPC, being the sole importer of petrol, should be held responsible for the resurfacing of queues across the country.
“There is only one vessel at the terminal ready to discharge, all marketers, major, independent and private depot owners, now depend on NNPC for products,” he said.
Another reason given for the scarcity was the fuel shortage as a result of burnt NNPC jetty over two months ago.
“So the NNPC and the major marketers have been struggling to discharge effectively for the last two months, hence, the queues were the resultant effects we are seeing now,” a source said.
A News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) survey around the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) showed that the queues resurfaced early in the morning at a few stations, especially in the central area.
A drive around the metropolis showed that some of the fuel stations, which hitherto had idle pump attendants, now had queues to attend to.
Long queues were also noticed in Lagos, though investigations by Tribune Online revealed that while it was evident that there was enough supply for consumers, price discrimination at the private depots was the reason for hoarding and rationing among marketers.
Fuel queues were also seen at most filling stations in Kaduna, while others closed for business activities.
A fuel attendant told Tribune Online that there was no fuel, while few ones continued to sell the commodity at the official rate of N145.
Many students had to trek to their various schools in the morning, to sit for their examinations, since motorists had queued up at filling stations to buy fuel.
However, motorists in Ibadan, Oyo State, had no experience of queues experienced in Lagos and Abuja as filling stations in the town were open for business.
When the Nigerian tribune visited some filling stations in Ibadan metropolis on Tuesday afternoon, there were no signs of queue.
Though there were gridlocks in major locations in the city, it was not in connection with fuel scarcity.
Senate to conduct nationwide inspection of filling stations, summons NNPC GMD
The Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) said plans had been concluded for it to conduct nationwide inspection of filling stations over recent fears of fuel scarcity in the country.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Kabiru Marafa, stated this in a news briefing, shortly after an investigative hearing on the matter in Abuja, on Tuesday.
Marafa said the Senate would not watch some unpatriotic persons put Nigerians through any form of hardship, particularly during the Yuletide.
Don’t short-change consumers, DPR boss warns oil marketers
The Operations Controller of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Abeokuta, Ogun State, Mrs Muinat Bello-Zagi, has warned independent oil marketers not to cheat consumers of petroleum products in Ogun State.
She said that any petroleum retail outlet found short-changing members of the public in terms of quantity and quality would be appropriately dealt with.
Mrs Bello, who made this known while on a monitoring and surveillance visit to some petrol stations within Abeokuta metropolis, on Monday, said the regulatory agency would not compromise its mandate in ensuring that consumers got the correct value for money.