The Nigerian people will have to celebrate another holiday coupled with the problem of fuel scarcity though the government has promised to ease the problem.
A fuel crisis-free Christmas is now uncertain in Nigeria, New Telegraph can authoritatively report.
This is because more filling stations in Lagos and Ogun states yesterday ‘ran dry’ of the product, four days to the festive period. The crisis, a survey by this newspaper showed, led to the return of black marketers, who have practically taken over sales of petrol from filling stations in major parts of the states.
The tanker drivers, who also were not certain of crisis-free Yuletide, also frowned at Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC’s) monopoly on fuel importation, calling on the government to encourage marketers to complement the corporation’s efforts.
While marketers, including those on the franchise of the NNPC, shut their gates against motorists, the black marketers freely sold the product for N250 per litre. At the NNPC station at Adura bus stop, along Lagos- Abeokuta Expressway, the attendants gave preference to the black marketers, who besieged the stations in tens of 50-litre kegs, above the motorists who were on long queues.
Many filling stations on the stretch of the expressway, whose gates were shut when this newspaper visited, told our reporter that they had no fuel in their tanks. Some of the marketers, that was dispensing, gave preference to customers with kegs while others like the NNPC at Adura bus stop has, according to observation by New Telegraph, adjusted it pump for profit sake.
The same situation was observed at the NNPC UTurn on the same expressway before gun-wielding police officers and some soldiers chased the black marketers and motorcycle riders out of the station’s premises. “I am so tired of this country,” a septuagenarian taxi driver, who simply identified himself as Mr. Lamidi lamented. Lamidi had stayed in the queue for seven hours. He queried the reason Nigerians must be subjected to unnecessary anguish anytime Yuletide is approaching.
“This is the third filling station that the search for petrol has taken me to in the last 24 hours. I have queued up for seven hours and when it was three vehicles before me, they said they would not sell the fuel again. I feel like dying; I have lost hope,” he added. While Conoil along the Yaya Abatan road in Ogba told New Telegraph reporter who had gone to buy fuel that they have run dry of the product, attendants at the station, on a pretence of trying to render help, asked a correspondent to bring N4,000 for 10 litres of the product.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) yesterday said fuel queues would disappear by this weekend. The corporation blamed the current scarcity on marketers, saying that part of the problem was the rumours about the purported planned increase in the pump price of petrol. NNPC stated that some marketers, in their quest to cash in on the situation, suddenly started hoarding products. “But we swiftly swung into action by doubling our supply nationwide. At the time the rumour started, we had about 30-day sufficiency.
“The normal daily supply to the nation is 700 trucks, equalling about 27- 30 million litres per day,” Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, the spokesperson of the corporation said in a statement yesterday. He assured Nigerians that the corporation had doubled its daily supply of petrol from daily 700 trucks (about 27 million – 30 million litres per day supply) to 80 million litres since the current hiccup in the supply chain was noticed a few days back.
Assuring that the fuel situation would fizzle out this week, Baru warned marketers against hoarding, stressing that any filling station found wanting in this regard would lose its entire products to motorists. According to Ughamadu, there has been an increase in the number of incoming trucks of petrol into the FCT to curb the queues in the city.
He said the NNPC Group Managing Director, Dr. Maikanti Baru, had met with the heads of Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) and Petrol Tanker Drivers (PTD) to nip the problem in the bud, adding that a nation that consumed 35 million litres suddenly increased consumption to 85 million litres due to diversion to neighbouring countries.
“He said Lagos should be maintained at 300 trucks, but the actual figure coming into Abuja should be increased by 150. “Port Harcourt refinery has also increased refining and so by tomorrow (Friday) queues should normalise and by weekend, it would have disappeared,” Ughamadu said