Rising petrol price hits N300 per litre
The scarcity of Premium Motor Spirit, also known as petrol, worsened across the country on Thursday, with massive lines seen in Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Calabar, Warri, Nasarawa, and Minna, among other places.
According to oil marketers, the scarcity worsened because dealers couldn't get the product from the only two depots dispensing the commodity in Lagos State as of Thursday.
The few filling stations that dispensed the commodity on Thursday, particularly those owned by independent marketers, charged between N250 and N300 per litre, depending on location.
Over 1,000 tickets belonging to marketers who had paid for products remained unattended at the few depots that dispense the commodity in Lagos, according to oil marketers.
According to reports, the tickets for over 1,000 tankers had continued to pile up due to the pressure on the two depots, MRS and Pinnacle.
It was also learned that the Federal Government may have quietly increased the price of petrol, as stations that used to sell the approved price of N179 - N180/litre had raised their prices to between N185 - N190/litre.
Scarcity has struck Abuja.
On Thursday, nearly all retail outlets belonging to independent marketers were closed, while only a few stations belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited and major marketers dispensed PMS.
However, the few outlets that dispensed products were met with massive lines of motorists who waited for hours to buy gasoline.
Concerns in the downstream sector, according to Mohammed Shuaibu, Secretary, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Abuja-Suleja, will persist as long as the government remains the sole importer of petrol into Nigeria.
"The Federal Government, through NNPC, is the only one importing this product and subsidizing it," he said. Furthermore, they lack the necessary storage space.
"Some time ago we complained about this because when they store in private depots, the price is hiked and some of the depots continue to exploit the masses arbitrarily.
"However, at the moment, the government is bringing in products. However, the problem now is that virtually all of the depots belonging to major marketers in Lagos' Apapa axis are empty. As a result, MRS and Pinnacle depots where NNPC drops products are under increased strain."
"So, there are over 1,000 tickets of marketers who have paid to have their trucks loaded, but we don't know what is happening," Shuaibu continued. They will tell you today that they are upgrading the system, and tomorrow that the system did not capture."
He said tickets were piling and "you know that it takes much time to transport this product from the South to the North. Some trucks spend a month, especially if they have road problems, while others spend two to three weeks."
The IPMAN official urged the Federal Government to take action, emphasizing the importance of acting quickly.
When asked why other depots in Apapa and other locations were not selling products, Shuaibu cited pipeline vandalism, depot upgrades, and other issues.
"The last time we complained that some depots were exploiting us, the depots argued that the cost of moving products from one end of their facility to the other had increased, among other issues," he said. So we don't know if that's another reason why NNPC stopped supplying some of these depots.
"Things were never this bad before. Some of our tickets have been there for nearly a month as I speak to you. I paid, but I still can't load. And the story is the same across all 21 of their depots. We are unable to load."
Meanwhile, Shuabu claimed that unconfirmed information on the official pump price of PMS filtered in on Thursday evening, claiming that the government had quietly raised the price of petrol.
"I can't confirm it yet, but we're hearing that they've quietly raised the pump price of petrol, because major marketers in Lagos who used to sell at N179 - N180/litre are now selling at N185 - N190/litre," he said.
Speaking on the issue, Chief Ukadike Chinedu, Public Relations Officer, IPMAN, stated that another reason for the scarcity was the changes made by NNPC in terms of payment for products by marketers.
"NNPC has moved independent marketers from PPMC Marketers Express to the NNPC Retail portal," he explained. Marketers will be able to purchase their products through the NNPC Retail portal. They did, however, inform us that the portal is now operational.
"Another source of concern is that they (NNPC) are also experiencing remittance issues, which they claim have been resolved. However, the consequences of these issues will be felt and will take some time to resolve.
"Marketers are requesting that NNPC supply products to some of the depots where independent marketers can access them, as most NNPC depots are inoperable due to pipeline vandalism."
"If you make more products available in NNPC selected depots, (especially those in Warri, Port Harcourt, Calabar, and Lagos), marketers will be able to easily go there and pick up their volumes with this new redesigned NNPC marketers portal," he added.
"Once this is done, the price of products will come down, because NNPC has not increased their price. As a result, when marketers select products at the official price, they are obligated to sell at the government-approved price."
Ukadike, on the other hand, observed that because marketers did not want to be idle and did not want their stations to be dry, they usually purchased products from depot owners, as these dealers (depot owners) faced their own challenges.
"As a result, we have price disparities at filling stations," he added. If you go to a NNPC retail station, you can get petrol for N179/litre, whereas some major marketers sell it for N200-N230/litre.
"It is therefore critical for the NNPC to supply more products to independent marketers who operate filling stations throughout Nigeria, in order to reduce the pressure of panic buying."
Since the recent resurgence of fuel scarcity, NNPC and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authority have remained silent.
Filling stations for FCT
On Thursday, The PUNCH also went to some petrol stations in Lugbe, along the airport road in Abuja.
Long lines formed at the nearby A.A Rano, Afdin, and A.Y.M Shafa filling stations.
Our correspondent observed that, despite cars queuing for fuel at the A.Y.M shafa, the fuel attendants told our correspondent that they were not selling.
Queues have formed in Lagos.
Our correspondents in Lagos witnessed highway gridlock caused by motorists queuing for products at filling stations. Fuel lines stretched across several city highways, exacerbating the gridlock.
Motorists, jerry can-carrying fuel buyers, and black marketers were seen swarming the MRS station on Ikorodu road in Berger for products. The development caused significant gridlock.
Long lines and gridlock were also seen around Conoil at Tollgate as customers struggled to purchase goods. Due to the influx of vehicles into the station and the expressway, Mobil stations at Berger also faced the challenge of keeping their customers in check.
Similar lines were seen at Oando on the Oshodi-Iyana Oworo-Berger highway, with Capital Oil reporting fewer cars and Enyo stations reporting fuel. Some AP stations were turned off.
Ogun media outlets lament
The manager of a filling station along the Arepo-Magboro axis in Ogun State, who spoke with our correspondent on the condition of anonymity, stated that the price of petrol is not the most important factor at the moment, but rather its availability for marketers to distribute.
"Marketers do not have enough fuel to distribute," he explained, "resulting in long lines and, as a result, high transportation costs."
Shola, a danfo driver, bemoaned the high cost of purchasing fuel, claiming that the high pump price was the only reason he had to raise his passenger fares.
Meanwhile, some filling stations in Lagos State's Ikotun area sold the product for more than 260/litre on Thursday.
Lagos limits the number of outlets.
Meanwhile, in light of the country's fuel scarcity, the Lagos State Government has announced its intention to regulate the activities of major and independent petroleum marketers who operate along major roads in order to ensure the free flow of traffic in the state.
This was revealed in a statement issued on Thursday by the state Commissioner of Transportation, Dr Frederic Oladeinde.
"In light of the country's continuing fuel scarcity, which has continued to affect the free flow of traffic in Lagos," he said, "the state government has initiated a move to regulate the activities of major and independent petroleum marketers operating along major roads and traffic-prone areas within the state."
"Major and independent petroleum marketers whose filling stations are located on major highways and areas prone to traffic will now be permitted to operate only between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily, pending the resolution of the fuel shortage crisis."