*Deal with saboteurs in fuel distribution — NLC, others
By Udeme Akpan, Energy Editor, Victor Ahiuma-Young, Lawani Mikairu, Dayo Johnson, Ediri Ejoh, Emem Idio & Obas Esiedesa, LAGOS
With petrol queues resurfacing in some parts of Nigeria, the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, NMDPRA, yesterday, confirmed the existence of commercial stocks nationwide.
Chief Executive Officer, NMDPRA, Farouk Ahmed, who disclosed this, also appealed to Nigerians not to engage in panic-buying of the product.
The NMDPRA boss said he was optimistic that the queues would be eliminated in the coming days as the marketers and NNPC have confirmed the existence of adequate stocks.
He said: “I spoke with the MOMAN’S Executive Secretary this morning and he told me they have sufficient stock. I have directed them to start evacuating the product immediately to filling stations.
“NNPC has also confirmed sufficiency and they have commenced evacuation. From now till tomorrow, the situation will be back to normal. I don’t know what is happening but we are on top of the situation.”
Similarly, in an interview with Vanguard, the chairman of MOMAN, Mr. Olumide Adeosun, said there is sufficient stock of the product to meet domestic demand.
Providing an insight into the current situation; he said there is a slow-down in the delivery going to Apapa jetty in Lagos, thus causing many persons to engage in panic buying.
Since then, he said some vessels have discharged the product to the jetty while others are expected to deliver soon.
He said: “The current scarcity witnessed in Lagos and some parts of the country is just a function of a slight ‘sporadic supply’.
We had always said if there is no consistent back-to-back supply into Apapa jetty it will eventually show up in queues at the stations. What happened was that there was a slowdown in the delivery going to Apapa jetty and the net effect of what we see now is people engaging in panic buying.
“This is because there are just enough products. Cargo came in at the weekend and another is coming in tomorrow, so there shouldn’t be any problem with supply. However, there are some other upstream issues but we have enough stock to meet the market. The message to Nigerians is not to engage in panic buying.”
Situation in Lagos
However, a visit to some depots in Apapa, Lagos and its environs showed that prices have risen to between N175 and N180 per litre, from the usual N148.17 per litre.
Checks by Vanguard showed while some independent marketers sell it between N190 and N200 per litre at their outlets, others, without it simply closed their gates against motorists and other buyers.
It also showed that there were long queues at the outlets of major oil marketers with limited quantity of the product, who sold it to motorist at the current Federal Government regulated N165 per litre.
There were also long queues at many filling stations across Ondo state yesterday.
Some filling stations were seen dispensing petrol at between N190and N200 per liter as against the N180 pump price while many that did not have supply closed their outlets.
In Abuja, there were still queues, barely 17 days after the Federal Government had directed the petroleum marketers to increase the number tankers bringing petrol into the city.
Checks by Vanguard, yesterday, showed fewer petrol stations were opened to customers, with most independent marketers selling between N230 to N255 per litre.
Hawkers who sold the product in jerry cans close to NNPC towers hiked their price to N350 per litre from N300 per litre it was sold last week.
The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, NMDPRA, had last week directed petrol marketers including NNPC Retails to increase the number of fuel trucks into the nation’s capital to 180 per day in a bid to end the queues.
The Executive Director, Distribution Systems, Storage & Retailing Infrastructure, NMDPRA, Ogbugo Ukoha had explained that while the flood in Lokoja was responsible for the queues, petrol was being moved to Abuja through Ogoja and Benue route from the Calabar port.
According to him, “The flood in Lokoja has put a lot of pressure on Abuja. Ordinarily, Abuja requires 70 trucks to ensure the city is wet. But in the last few weeks, this has been very difficult. We have now decided to increase the number of 180 and 200 trucks daily to supply Abuja and its environs.
“The NNPC is also discharging PMS into barges in Calabar so that trucks can take the Benue route. There are additional but we are optimistic that the new measures will ease the queues very soon”.
We may increase fares if…. transporters
Speaking with Vanguard, the Ogba, Ikeja station manager of Okeyson Transport Ltd, a major transport company with stations country wide, said the current scarcity of fuel in Lagos alleged that his company has not yet felt the impact of the shortage.
According to the manager who pleaded anonymity because he was not permitted to speak, said: “The current fuel queues and scarcity is artificial. We had our normal supply of fuel for our various vehicles yesterday. Maybe we will know the true situation of things when we go out tomorrow, Wednesday morning to get our normal supply. We have not changed our fares yet. But we may adjust our fares if the situation persists.”
However, many outlets were still closed against motorists and other buyers while prices at other stations with stocks rose to an average of N400 per litre.
Supply remains unsteady — IPMAN
On his part, the National Operations Controller, IPMAN, Mr. Mike Osatuyi, who confirmed the development in a telephone interview with Vanguard, attributed it to unsteady supply in the past few days.
He said as a result of the unsteady supply, depots prices have risen to between N175 and N180 per litre in Lagos and its environs.
According to him, “The situation has culminated in higher prices at the depots. Our members, who find it difficult to get the product, pay between N175 and N185 per litre. Consequently, we are compelled to sell at higher prices in order to cover cost.”
Investigate, tackle shortage — IPMAN, NLC
Also speaking, Alhaji Dele Tajudeen, Chairman, IPMAN Western Zone, confirmed the increase of depot price to N178 per litre, from N148.17 per litre.
He called on the government to investigate the situation as well as take actions to tackle the shortage.
However, the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, has expressed disgust over the return of long queues in petrol stations and black markets all over the country causing unbearable pains to commuters and loss of productive hours for workers, poor citizens and the generality of the populace.
NLC in a communiqué at the end of its National Executive Council, NEC, meeting in Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State, pleaded with the federal government to take drastic actions to end the shortage.