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Fuel scarcity persists, petrol now N300 in Lagos

Abolaji Adebayo
While fuel scarcity persists, the price has skyrocketed, making residents lament hardship that follows.
The Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), otherwise called petrol, now is sold for as high as N300 per litre in some filling stations while back market goes for N400 in the metropolitan.
Initially, the scarcity was attributed to heavy flood in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, purportedly preventing petroleum tankers from transporting the product. However, more factors have emerged responsible for the scarcity being witnessed by Nigerians especially the Lagos residents.
From the beginning of October, when there was indication of looming scarcity, some filling stations started hoarding the products in their reservoirs while those who sold adjusted their prices upward, while black market surfaced.
Initially, some filling stations were selling at N220, while others sold at N240 but later increased to N250 and N300 per litre. Only NNPC stations were selling at the normal price. Soon, long queue returned to the city, causing traffic on major roads.
Consequently, the transportation fares across the state jumped up by more than  300 per cent.
For instance, from Oshodi to Toll Gate increased from N400 to N1,500 over the weekend while passengers struggled for the few commercial buses plying the road.
Last week, ECHONEWS  reported that transport fare from Oshodi to Toll Gate-Sango increased from N400 to N600 to N700; Agege to Alakuko from N300 to N400. Obalende to Oshodi that used to be N300 also increased to N500, the same on Ikorodu-Ketu-Ojota-Oshodi axis and some other places visited by our correspondent. The fares over the weekend increased  more than three times the initial fares.
Some of the commercial drivers who spoke to ECHONEWS complained that they could not get fuel to work while some of them who got bought at higher prices.
The marketers complained that there was a drop in loading at the depot in Lagos.
As early reported by ECHONEWS, the national vice president of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Alhaji Abubakar Maigandi, said product supply from the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Ltd to the private depots was limited.
Tracing the root of the crisis, oil marketers had said that there had been issues with logistics and the importer’s single supplier, the national oil company.
They said that all these worries might cause the current fuel lines to continue past December. They also claimed that some new charges had been established in the downstream oil industry, which had led to an increase in the ex-depot price of gasoline.
“Recently, there have been a lot of charges that marketers pay. There are some charges that the NNPC adds to the pump price, but recently we were told to be prepared to bear freight charges and others,” a major marketer stated.
“Also, pipeline charges that used to be 50 kobo, are now N1 per litre. Now, these charges forced depot owners to increase their ex-depot rates as against the one proposed by the NNPC.
“These and more concerns have led to the crisis in the downstream sector and it may stretch till December or even beyond if nothing tangible is done to address the challenges.
“Nobody cares about how much you sell now. That is why you cannot see the NNPC ex-depot prices to be the same in all the depots.
“There are some changes in rates now, which the NNPC cannot accommodate and they have to push it to marketers to absorb. This is why you see people sell at different rates.”
In a recent interview on Channels Television, the deputy national president of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Zarama Mustapha, outlined a few reasons some cities are experiencing fuel scarcity.
He outlined the delay in the discharge of petrol from the mother vessel to depots because of some challenges between private depot owners and the NNPC, which is the main supplier of petrol.
He also pointed to pricing issues, shortage of NNPC storage, policies and the yuletide period amongst others.
He stated: “The on and off queues are due to issues of logistics in terms of supply of the commodity to the retail outlets from either the mother vessel to the private depot owners and from there to independent and major marketers’ stations.
“There are a series of logistics issues as regards the supply chain. But the government and stakeholders are engaged in, in order to get a solution to these issues. However, we believe that this will be addressed, though it may drag beyond December.”
The lack of foreign currency is another obstacle to the delivery of petroleum products, according to Chief Ukadike Chinedu, National Public Relations Officer of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria.
He stated: “There was a time you interviewed me some months ago, and I told you that fuel would sell for N200 per litre. You were really not comfortable with that statement.
“After that publication, many stakeholders called you to react to it. Some of them also called me to say why did I say fuel would be sold at that price? But I was only discussing, based on the indices of the industry at that time.
“As the PRO of IPMAN in Nigeria, I can read the policies of the government towards the distribution of products in the downstream oil sector. You look at the exchange rate of the dollar to the naira, some foreign interruptions and the price of diesel.
“All these are factors that definitely affect petroleum products’ prices since we are not producing refined products in Nigeria. We cannot sustain the importation of petrol.
“Otherwise, we will continue to see ghost queues every month and this may continue till the end of this year. The major solution now is to speed up the repairs of our refineries. However, we are meeting and looking for quick interventions.”
Also speaking, the Secretary, Abuja-Suleja IPMAN, Mohammed Shuaibu, stated that the current challenges of poor distribution and supply shortage of petrol might lead to widespread queues for PMS during the festive period in December.
“Our worry as marketers is that the festive month is at hand and if nothing is done quickly to address the current concerns around supply, I am afraid that it will escalate during the festivities, because it has started.”
While Lagosians are battling with scarcity of fuel, they are also lamenting sleeping in total darkness for days as there has been power outage since upper week.
“In fact, this is a country, no fuel and no light. We can’t do anything without the power, business is not moving since we don’t have power,” Morenikeji Adebayo lamented.
Adebayo, who is a graphic artist, complained  that they have not been enjoying power supply in her area at Ifako-Ijaye LGA for the past two week, adding that the situation has been affecting their businesses especially those who depend on power supply to do their businesses.
“Without power we cannot work. The power supply in my area has not been stable since upper week. And we can’t get fuel to power the generator. The government has to urgently do something,” she complained.

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