Petrol panic in Lagos, Abuja

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  • NARTO threatens strike over cost
  • No scarcity of product, says NNPC

Queues returned to petrol stations in parts of Lagos yesterday.

The fear of scarcity spread across the metropolis.In Abuja, the queues, which have lingered for some days, continued.

In both cities, black marketers flooded major highways with petrol in cans, selling to motorists on the roadside.In Lagos, vehicles lined up at Ajah, Lekki, Victoria Island and the mainland areas in search of premium motor spirit (PMS), otherwise known as petrol. It was the same situation in Sango-Ota, Mowe, Ibafo and Arepo axis on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

There were long queues all over Abuja. Very few petrol stations had the product.Most of the outlets on the Kubwa Expressway were shut.The few that had the product were packed with vehicles. It was the same in the Nyanya area.At the city centre, queues created gridlock in parts of Wuse and Garki.

Black marketers had a field day, selling from between N300 to N400 per litre.The situation may worsen if the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) carries out its threat to withdraw haulage service should the Federal Government not address rising operational costs.But the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited said there was no need for panic buying.Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Garba Deen Muhammad, said in a statement: “The NNPC Ltd wishes to assure the public that the company has sufficient PMS stock to meet the needs of Nigerians.

“The public is, therefore, advised not to engage in panic buying of petrol; and to ignore all rumours that may suggest otherwise.“In line with the existing laws of the land, NNPC Ltd. is deeply committed to ensuring energy security for the country.”In Ajah, an NNPC mega station was shut.

The gate of an NNPC station in Mushin was also closed.Many other stations shut their gates to motorists on Lagos Island, except Oando on the Lekki-Ajah Expressway.But there were no queues in all the petrol stations along Ikorodu Road as motorists drove in to refill with ease.The situation was the same around Ketu, Ojota and Mile 12.

A filling station manager said that marketers were hoarding the fuel in anticipation of an increase in the pump price.Isaiah Jesuwale, who works with Mobil filling station in Mushin, said: “There is nothing like queue here as you can see. The news of fuel scarcity is a rumour and nothing more. Fuel is still at N162.50 and there has been no directive from above for it to change.”

President of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Chinedu Okoronkwo, told The Nation all member stations sold petrol.“Take a look around town, you will see that all IPMAN members are selling petrol; none of them has shut their gate to the public. But let’s wait till tomorrow (today) then we can talk more,” he said.

NARTO National President, Yusuf Othman, in a statement, said members of the association found it difficult to sustain their businesses because the freight rate is regulated and paid in arrears.“We can’t operate that way. Transporters whose freight rate is fixed and regulated cannot sustain the business if nothing is done.“We can’t work if nothing is done to increase the freight rate.

The condition is unbearable because of the cost of diesel,” he said.Othman urged the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) to urgently increase the freight rate to reflect the present cost of diesel and spare parts.According to him, the ex-depot cost of diesel soared to N401 per litre yesterday and may hit N420 per litre if something is not done urgently.He urged the NMDPRA Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Malam Farouk Ahmed, to convene a stakeholder meeting to increase the freight rate and address other pressing issues of cost of operation.

“Today, the price of AGO ex-depot is N401 per litre. It means that in Abuja, Kaduna, Kano, it will reach N420 to N430. At the filling station, it will get to N450.“Regulate our rising operation cost. It is as simple as that. Otherwise, our people have parked their trucks and more people are going to park,” he said.Petrol sufficiency days and stock figures are receding and unstable, according to an NMDPRA sufficiency report for January 27, February 2, and February 3.

The NNPC used to boast about 30 to 40 days stock sufficiency and about 2 billion metres, but the stock has dipped to 25.45 24 days sufficiency and about 1,425,046,694 litres as of February 3.From the stock breakdown, there were 769,417,053 litres in-land, 98,365,735 litres at berth and 557,263,906 litres marine stock.The reserve was 1,506,046,692 litres on February 2, an equivalent of 26.89 days sufficiency.

The breakdown for February 2 was 769,293,346 litres of land-based stock and 736,753,128 marine stock at berth (offshore).On January 27, the reserve was a 1,345,338,930 litres stock of petrol.Last month, the stock day sufficiency receded from 26.78 days on January 26 to 24.02 days sufficiency on January 27.As of January 27, there was total in-land stock of 788,968,309 litres and 213,917,185 litres as total jetty (at berth) stock.The report added that there were 342,453,436 litres of marine stock.

The total reserve for the day was 1,345,338,930 litres. The previous day, the reserve was 1,499,806,953 being 26.78 days stock sufficiency.The stock sufficiency was 25.47 days on January 25.Ahead of Yuletide, the NNPC said it raised its reserves from 1.7billion to 2 billion litres.Nigeria consumes between 54 million to 60 million of petrol daily.The scarcity followed rumours that the Federal Government planned to remove the subsidy.

Despite the subsequent announcement that the government had shelved the subsidy removal plan, products supply was still a far cry from the demand for it.Convener of a civil society organisation (CSO), Concerned Nigerians, Deji Adeyanju, decried the alleged hoarding of petroleum products by independent marketers.In a letter to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, he said the withholding of petrol was to “criminally increase the prices, cause artificial scarcity and plunge the country into widespread economic chaos.

He said it was worrisome that regulators had not deemed it necessary to call the independent marketers to order but continue to allow them to take advantage of Nigerians.

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