Fuel crisis bites harder

on April 15, 2019

  • Hoarding, profiteering worsen as marketers shut gates
  • NNPC cautions Nigerians against panic buying
  • FG: No plan to remove fuel subsidy now

The fuel crisis rocking Nigeria worsened yesterday with more marketers of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as petrol shutting their gates against motorists. More filling stations in Lagos, however, took advantage of the situation yesterday as they shut their gates against motorists who trooped to their stations for petrol. On the entire stretch of Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, only the Oando Filling Station at U-Turn was seen selling the product during a survey by this newspaper. The same situation was also observed at Iju-Fagba- Agege road in Lagos where none of the over 10 filling stations sold product yesterday.

The gates of all filling stations on College Road, Ogba, except Conoil, were shut yesterday. The fuel crisis has also spread to Delta, Rivers, Kwara, Ogun and Osun states. Queues of vehicles and kegs were at the Total filling station along the Warri- Sapele road, in Sapele while stations like Forte Oil, Mobil shut their gates for motorists. Panic buying also led to queues at filling stations in Ilorin, Kwara State. In Osun, motorists, commercial motorcyclists and other petrol users queued up on Sunday for petrol at filling stations that dispensed the product.

The same situation was observed in Ota and Abeokuta in Ogun State, where queues of vehicles and kegs were observed at filling stations that were selling petrol. In Osun State, many petrol stations were not selling the product. A correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) who went round the Osun State capital, Osogbo, and its environs yesterday reports that many of the petrol stations were under lock and key. The few petrol stations selling the product had long queues of vehicles. Tayo Arowolo, a fuel attendant in one of the filling stations visited, said the scarcity of the product was as a result of inability of many of the Independent marketers to lift the product at the Lagos depot. Arowolo said most petrol stations in the state were hoarding the product and selling to motorists at a particular time while others stopped selling earlier than expected.

He said that if the situation was not urgently addressed, it would bring untold hardship on the people. Mr. Yusuf Ayinla, a motorist who was on the queue at Conoil Filling Station at Old Garage, Osogbo, said it was sad that petrol stations were hoarding the product, thereby creating artificial scarcity. Ayinla, however, implored the appropriate authorities to do the needful before things become more difficult for the common man. Another motorist, Mr. Ayo Adeyanju, said many commercial drivers were taking advantage of the scarcity to increase transport fares. Adeyanju appealed to government to intervene in the situation before it gets out of hand. Meanwhile, two vessels loaded with petrol were seen during a survey by New Telegraph discharging at Oando ASPM jetty and NOJ jetty in Apapa yesterday.

The two vessels, Pine Express and High Seas, checks by New Telegraph showed, had 42,000 metric tons cumulative capacity, which is expected to mitigate the shortage witnessed at filling stations in major cities across the country by Wednesday. Pine Express berthed at ASPM awaiting clearance to offload its 22,000 mt litres content, while the High Seas berthed at NOJ and was already discharging when this newspaper visited the facility yesterday. Noting that more depot owners are trooping to high seas with smaller vessels for a Ship-to-Ship (S to S) transfer from over 40,000 metric tons mother vessel around Takwa Bay, a manager at one of the depots told this newspaper that relief was expected on or before Wednesday. “The truth is that there was a problem that was not well managed by the NNPC, which is the sole importer of the product.

But now, two vessels that you saw are expected to finish offloading their PMS content by tomorrow (Monday). “Aside from this, most of us (depot owners) who could not cope with delay by NNPC are trooping with smaller vessels to high sea for an S to S transfer from mother vessel. With this, there should be a big relief at filling stations on or before Wednesday,” he said.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), however, insisted that Nigerians should desist from panic buying as this is capable of boosting hoarding and profiteering by marketers. Like NNPC, the Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) also said at the weekend that the current daily supply of petrol in Nigeria is 56 million litres. T he corporation, in a statement, restated its commitment to what it described as “the sustenance of the present seamless supply and distribution of petroleum products across the country.”

Group Managing Director of the corporation, Dr. Maikanti Baru, said that no fewer than 55 depots across the country were fully stocked with petrol. He explained that 23 depots in Lagos, seven in Port Harcourt, 11 in Warri, six in Calabar and eight in Kaduna, were stocked with petrol. Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary of the Major Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Clement Isong, told this newspaper on Friday that government, in addition to ending the fuel subsidy regime, should effect a total deregulation of the downstream sub-sector. “We, as MOMAN, want full deregulation as soon as possible, but we understand that government has got to be strategic in its implementation of the policy. “So our belief is that we need to get out of this subsidy regime as quickly as itis practicable for the sake of government, for the sake of all Nigerians and for our own sake,” Isong said. Meanwhile, the Federal Government has, again, clarified its stance on the removal of fuel subsidy, saying it had no plan to do so in the immediate future.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, said this yesterday at the briefing by the Nigerian delegation on the outcome of their meetings with investors and institutions at the IMF/World Bank meetings in Washington DC. Ahmed spoke in reaction to IMF’s advice to Federal Government to remove fuel subsidy, which might have led to panic buying in the country. “One of the issues that always come up, especially in the IMF Article IV is how we handle fuel subsidy. So in principle, the IMF would say fuel subsidies are better removed so that you can use the resources for other important sectors.

“In principle, it’s a good suggestion, but in Nigeria, we don’t have any plans to remove fuel subsidy at this time because we have not yet designed buffers that will enable us remove the subsidy and provide cushions for our people. “So there is no imminent plan to remove fuel subsidy. We will be working with various groups to find an alternative if we have to remove it. We are not yet at the point of removing fuel subsidy yet. “We discussed this very frequently at the Economic Management Team but what is the alternative? We haven’t yet found viable alternatives, so we are not yet at the point of removing fuel subsidies,” she said.