Fuel scarcity worsens in Lagos, FCT, others, black market booms at N300/litre

…marketers insist on price hike

Fuel scarcity worsened in Lagos, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and other parts of the country on Tuesday, resulting in motorists spending hours at filling stations.

For oil marketers, the solution to the worsening fuel queues across the country is for the Federal Government to approve an increase in the pump price of the commodity.

Although some marketers had already raised the price of fuel in their outlets, they admitted that the move had not been approved by the government, noting that dealers could be sanctioned for selling above the regulated rate.

The approved pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, is N165/litre, but marketers are currently kicking against this rate, saying that it is no longer sustainable going by the global crisis in the energy sector.

A retail outlet located in the Kubwa Village Market, Abuja, dispensed petrol at N195/litre to motorists and still had queues.

Heavy fuel queues were seen in the few filling stations that sold petrol at the approved rate on Tuesday. Some of them included: the NNPC close to Gwarimpa on the Zuba-Kubwa expressway, Total filling station opposite the headquarters of NNPC, Nipco filling station on Zuba expressway, among others.

“The solution to this crisis is to increase petrol price and have it approved because the cost of diesel used in transporting these products to retail stations has risen from about N250/litre a few months ago to around N850/litre currently,” the Deputy National President, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Zarma Mustapha, told one of our correspondents.

The IPMAN official explained that the widespread queues in Nigeria were related to the global energy crisis that had dragged on for about four months since the Ukraine/Russia war started.

“Because of that crisis, the prices of crude have increased astronomically and Russia, being the largest producer of diesel globally, is inaccessible. So, people are not having access to purchase diesel, knowing full well that our refineries are not working,” Mustapha stated.

He added, “We solely depend on imported diesel, so based on that, the scarcity of diesel has become worse, which is the major product we use in transporting fuel to filling stations.

“The marketers have engaged the government in trying to see how best we can cushion the effects of the rise in diesel price. But, unfortunately, the price has continued to rise and based on that the government made an upward review of the bridging claims.”

He noted that despite the little upward reviews of the bridging rates in May and June this year, the adjustments were still not enough to cover the cost of transporting products.

Mustapha, however, stated that marketers were engaging the Federal Government, adding that it had been confirmed that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited had enough stock.

The spokesperson for NNPC, Garba-Deen Mohammed, told our correspondent that the national oil firm was working out something with respect to the development and promised to revert. He, however, had yet to revert up till the time this story was filed in.

This came as passengers in Lagos expressed concern over the hike in transport fares as a result of fuel scarcity in the state.

One of our correspondents observed the situation in some parts of the state and gathered that transport fares had increased by 100 per cent in most parts of Lagos.

Moradekemi Kolawole, a commercial bus passenger, said, “This is too much. You can’t believe that instead of the usual N200 from Ogba to Ikeja, I paid N400. Now I’m going to Berger and the drivers are saying it is N300 instead of N150.”

Another passenger, who only identified himself as Dele, said,  “I came in from Magboro to Secretariat today and I am now going back. I have already spent N800. And before now,  it was just N400.”

A commercial bus driver, Dimeji Olaiya, explained that the scarcity of fuel had led to the increase in transport fares and stated that the situation might be worse in the next few days.

“This is not the first time we are experiencing this. Yesterday, I got to the filling station around 6 pm and left around 10:30 pm and I couldn’t still get petrol at the normal price. So, how do you expect me to carry passengers at the normal price? It is not going to work,” he said.

It was also observed that some filling stations began to hoard products as those that dispensed petrol had to increase the price of the commodity in Lagos.

Also, the Nigeria Customs Service of FOU Zone A, Ikeja, dispensed auctioned petroleum products at higher prices.

It was gathered that petrol was sold to buyers at the operational warehouse of the unit on Monday.

One of our correspondents, who visited the location on Tuesday morning and posed as a buyer, was told that the product was no longer available.

A female trader close to the warehouse, who bought the product and resold it on the black market, told The PUNCH that “the fuel won’t be available again until next Monday. Everything has been sold yesterday. They sell to people only on Mondays.”

When our reporter insisted on waiting to see if the products would be dispensed, the female trader said he should not waste his time, as she would not sell until the following Monday.

Another lady, simply identified as Joy, said, “If you had come yesterday, you would have got fuel. People were many yesterday, as they sold from around 8 am to 10 am. If you want to come around next Monday, you have to arrive early to register your name. The officers sell to people who register their names. And once you do that, you will have to wait for a while before they start to call names.”

The business had been on for a long time and not as a result of the fuel scarcity. Like other contrabands, seized petroleum products are brought to the warehouse and sold at auctioned prices.

Joy disclosed that a keg of 25 litres was usually sold at N3,000, but the price was hiked to N4,000 when it was sold on Monday. – Punch.

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