Fuel Scarcity: This is not the ‘Change’ we voted for, motorists lament

Fuel sells between N150 and N360 in petrol stations in North Central and South-West, a survey by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), has revealed. North-Central comprised of Jos, Nasarawa, Niger, Kogi and Benue, while South-West is made up of Ibadan, Ogun, Osun, Ondo and Kwara. Correspondents of NAN monitoring the situation report that long queues of vehicles were noticed in most of the stations in spite of the high cost of the product.

In Jos, motorists in their hundreds now sleep over in their cars at NNPC Mega stations to avoid vandalism. With car owners getting desperate, management of some stations had introduced tallies at minising the chaos in the stations. NAN reports that cars in the city and environs had moved into the NNPC Mega stations because other stations dispensed the product between N280 and N330. The Controller, Department Petroleum Resources (DPR) Mr Douglas Caesar, said the department had continued to monitor the sales but decried that the stations dispense the product at night, In Niger, motorists buy a litre at N200. A trader, Alhaji Abdulahi Tella, told NAN that “we buy a litre for N200, this is becoming normal and we do not see much wrong with that any longer’’. NAN reports that Gov. Abubakar Bello on Monday visited some stations and NNPC mega stations where he advised against hoarding and sharp practices. Alhaji Abdulahi Isa, Controller of DPR in Niger, blamed the shortage on the low supply of the commodity. “Niger is supposed to get 30 trucks per day but we get only two on the average,’’ he said.

The situation is the same in Kogi, where a litre is being sold for between N200 and N260 in most filling stations in Lokoja. At Okene and Kabba, two other major towns in the state, fuel sold for between N210 and N220 per litre. In Taraba NAN found that only AA Rano, Road-block, and NNPC Mega station at Mayo-Gwoi sold the product. With fuel queues snaking through most parts of Jalingo, most motorist had resorted to buying the commodity from road side vendors at between N1500 and N1800 for four litre gallon. In Nasarawa, the story was the same with commuters in Lafia and environs groaning over the lingering fuel scarcity. NAN checks in Lafia on Tuesday revealed that only three petrol stations were dispensing the product to customers. NAN reports that while the NNPC mega station is selling at N86 per litre, Sandaji and Popsy stations on Jos Road were selling for N214 and N210, respectively. NAN also reports that the queue at the NNPC mega station in Lafia, stretched over three kilometres with motorists struggling to outsmart themselves. Malam Yusuf Sule, a driver, said that the situation was becoming unbearable as the price of the product had forced them to increase their transport fare.

According to Sule, the fare from Lafia to Abuja that usually cost between N700 to N800, is now N1,200. Similarly, Mr Agu Clement, a motorcyclist, decried the scarcity and called on the authorities to act quickly to ameliorate the suffering. Meanwhile, Alhaji Usman Sandaji, the Chairman of Sandaji Oil, has explained that the high cost of the product was due to the high price from the sources. “We got product last night from the black market at the rate of N212 per litre and decided to sell at N214 to enable us pay staff salary and maintain the station,’’ he said. In South-West, in spite of the massive supply of fuel into many states, the product was still selling at exorbitant rate in many retail outlets and the black market. In Ibadan, many filling stations owned by independent marketers were selling PMS at between N150 and N200 per litre. Some marketers like Oando, Mobil, Total, Bovas and Forte, were selling at the official rate of N86.50, while the NNPC stations sold for N86.00.

The product, which throughout the previous week was very scarce, was now available at various filling stations in Ibadan, but long queues persisted at the stations. In Osogbo, Osun, the product was also being sold at unofficial rates at outlets owned by independent marketers. At the Oando filling station in Oke-fia, a litre sold at N200, while it was N220 at Oduwoye Filling Station. The Total Filling Station at Nelson Mandela Freedom Park was selling a litre at N180 while the product was available at Adolak filling station for N170. Speaking with NAN, the Manager of Mobile Oil at Oke-fia, Mr Fatai Abdulquzeem, said the independent marketers would need to cooperate with the NNPC for the product to be available to buyers. Abdulquzeem decried the diversion of the product by retailers for selfish reasons, and called for appropriate measures against such act. Some of the residents, who spoke with NAN, expressed their frustration over the fuel scarcity. Mr Ibrahim Ajiloba, a commercial driver, said the non- availability of fuel was adversely affecting his transport business. Ajiloba said he spent between eight and 10 hours at the filling station to get the product to buy at a very exorbitant price. Some of the consumers, who spoke to NAN, called on government to intervene through the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to compel other filling stations to sell at the official rate. The Commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Osun, Mr Oladele Olusola, said the corps was monitoring the activities of oil marketers in the state to curb hoarding. He explained that the corps was working in collaboration with DPR in Oyo State to check any sharp practice among oil marketers. Olusola regretted the absence of DPR in Osun, saying the presence of the regulatory agency could have reduced the work of his officers.

In Ilorin, the lingering petrol scarcity worsened as a lire of petrol now attracts N300 at black market spots in various parts of the state. A NAN correspondent, who monitored the fuel situation in some parts of Ilorin on Wednesday, reports that the commodity was being sold for between N200 and N220 at some private filling stations. None of the major marketers’ filling stations had supply of petrol as at Wednesday morning while petrol attendants that spoke with NAN said they were expecting consignment from the depot. NAN reports that in spite of the high cost of petrol at the black market and few private stations a long queue of vehicles were sighted waiting to purchase the product. Black market operators told NAN that their business was booming following the fuel scarcity as both commercial and private vehicle owners were patronising them. A black marketer at the Pipeline Area, Hassan Akanbi, stated that the hike was inevitable as they sourced the product from outside the state. “I travelled all the way to Ogbomoso in Oyo State to buy fuel at the rate of N160 per litre,’’ he said. A motorist, Mr Olaitan Suleiman, confirmed the hike in the price of fuel in the black market. He explained that the stress of queuing endlessly for fuel at filling stations had left some motorists with no option than to buy from fuel hawkers. The fuel scarcity being experienced in Ilorin has shot up transport fares as taxi drivers now charge N80 per drop for short distance. Several pedestrians, who cannot afford the high cost of transport, resorted trekking to their various destinations. NAN recalls that the DPR in the state had suspended monitoring of sale of fuel in filling stations for over six weeks now. An official of the department told NAN that DPR decided to suspend monitoring of fuel because of threat to their lives and physical assault on officials by owners of private filling stations. The Chairman of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), Sawmill branch, Alhaji AbdulGaniyu Lasoju, described the fuel situation as unfortunate.

He said that the members could not afford to buy petrol at between N200 to N220 per litre for a journey to Lagos since they were unable to increase transport fares. Lasoju urged the Federal Government to find a lasting solution to the fuel crisis as a way of further boosting the nation’s economy. In Ado-Ekiti, fuel is now available in most filling stations visited by correspondents, A cross section of motorists attested to the development, saying the situation had improved. However, it was observed that while the problem of scarcity had disappeared, the issue of high cost per litre still abounds. NAN reports that many filling stations, especially those owned by independent marketers, still sell a litre for between N200 and N210. There were, however, queues at the NNPC mega stations and outlets of major marketers. Motorists such as Mr Sunday Ilesanmi, Mr Michael Adewuyi and Mrs Olufolake Oguntuyi, told NAN that their decision to continue to queue at NNPC stations was informed by the fact that the product was being sold at approved price of N86 per litre. Others that were also selling at controlled prices included major marketers like Texaco and Total while NIPCO and BOVAS also sold at regulated price. In Ogun, queues at some of the stations visited were as long as 500 meters, while the services of security personnel were engaged to maintain orderliness and sanity.

At the NNPC and FATGBEMS Petrol Station on IBB Boulevard, the situation was chaotic as they sold at the official pump price of N86 and N86:50, respectively. Owners of generating sets were seen queuing for the products as the stations refused to dispense in gallons and Jerry cans. At the Mobil Petrol Station, Gbonagun, Abeokuta, the story of motorists who wanted to buy fuel was not different. They queued was about 500 meters long and bought the product at the normal price. Some independent marketers, however, sold the product at between N120 and N200 per litre with low patronage. At the Sango/Oba axis, most of the filing stations were selling the commodity between N180 and N200. Meanwhile, the Ogun State Government has reassured residents that the hardship occasioned by the current fuel scarcity in the country would soon be over, The Secretary to the State Government, Taiwo Adeoluwa, who gave the assurance in Abeokuta , advised the people to remain calm and not engage in any act capable of causing chaos or disrupting the peace of the state . Adeoluwa said that government was deeply concerned about the development, assuring that the Federal Government was doing all within its power to ensure that all issues precipitating the scarcity were resolved. He said government decried the unwholesome practice of some “shylock’’ petroleum dealers who were taking advantage of the scarcity to exploit residents by selling above the official pump price. The SSG warned that the task force set up by government to ensure traffic orderliness and compliance with the official pump price regime have begun a statewide clampdown on defaulting filling stations.

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