June 13, 2024
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Fuel crisis in Nigeria worsens as depots divert tanks to Abuja

Despite claims by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited that the logistic issues causing fuel scarcity had been addressed, Nigerians in Lagos and other parts of the country were still struggling to get Premium Motor Spirit as many filling stations remained under lock and key throughout the weekend.

The PUNCH independently gathered that the situation might worsen in Lagos and other parts of the South-West like Ogun, Oyo, Osun and others because there was a directive by the NNPCL that fuel trucks must first service the Federal Capital Territory before any other place.

As a result, the majority of trucks leaving the depots in Lagos since Friday were heading for Abuja.

Officials of the NNPCL and marketers told our correspondents that there was a directive that depots should service Abuja filling stations before any other part of the nation. They worried that queues might linger for the next three days in the South-West.

According to the oil sector sources, hundreds of trucks loaded on Saturday were sent to Abuja based on the NNPCL directive.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the press on the matter, also disclosed that the product was being rationed by the NNPCL, which now allocates 5,000 metric tonnes of fuel instead of 10,000MT to depots.

“Because of the scarcity, there are directives that the product should be rationed. Depots now get about 220 trucks, which is half what they usually get. This is happening because of the erratic supply. If the NNPCL had enough supply, it would give everybody what they needed, and there would be no queues,” one of the officials stated.

According to an operator, the erratic supply has been caused by the national energy company’s inability to import enough at the moment.

“The cause of the erratic supply is because the NNPCL does not have enough fuel imported. Regardless of the money or anything, the NNPCL sometimes experiences glitches in its supply. For example, at the NNPCL Jetty in Apapa, as of Saturday, there was only one tanker at ASPM which can take about 40,000 metric tonnes; the three other reception points had no PMS vessel.

“Whenever the NNPCL has disruptions in importation, we start having these issues. They will try hard to manage it, but it will later blow open. Last week, they said it was a result of logistics, but this is not about logistics; it’s about glitches in importation.

“All our trucks now are heading to Abuja. There was a directive to all dealers and marketers that they should serve Abuja first. All regulatory agencies know that products will go to Abuja until normalcy is restored. You can have your truck in the depot now for three to four days; they will just be telling you to hold on. You will not know what is happening. You will see other trucks going, not knowing their location determines their loading ahead of you,” the operator noted.

He added, “The South West will likely experience more queues in the next two to three days because the Abuja loading will continue until Monday. The government is prioritising Abuja; they want the seat of power to have enough fuel supply.”

Speaking, the National Vice President of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Hammed Fashola, expressed hope that the queues in Lagos and Ogun would ease off between Monday and Wednesday, relying on the words of the NNPCL.

Fashola, however, stated that the queues in Abuja might tarry a bit due to the distance to Lagos.

“The information available to us from the NNPCL was that there was a logistics problem, and when that happens, it will disrupt the supply chain. That might be a delay in the movement of ships from the mother vessel to the daughter vessel before it gets to the depot tanks. Before we can correct that, surely it will take some days. I think by Tuesday or Wednesday, there will be more products available for lifting by marketers. It might take time before it can ease off in Abuja, considering the distance to Lagos and the bad roads; Lagos might be calm this new week,” Fashola assured.

NNPC faults claim

When told that it was gathered that NNPC was rationing PMS supply and prioritising supply to Abuja, thereby causing scarcity in the South-West, the spokesperson for the NNPC, Olufemi Soneye, declared that the claim was totally false.

“Completely false. That is false information. Is he (the dealer) tracking every truck to determine their destinations? If there are disruptions in fuel distribution for three days, it usually takes twice that time to return to normal. The situation should improve soon. One important point to note is that we have product availability.

“If they are familiar with the industry, they should be aware of this. Products need to be delivered to the states,” Soneye explained.
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The PUNCH reported that the scarcity, which started last week, has continued to spread despite the NNPCL’s assurances on Thursday that the issues had been addressed.

Our correspondent reports that the Ogun State residents have been lamenting the lack of fuel since last week. Fuel has become a scarce commodity from Abeokuta to the West and East of the Gateway State.

Many filling stations in Abeokuta did not dispense fuel on Sunday. The very few ones dispensing fuel sold a litre of petrol at the rate of N670, N700 and above.

At the NNPCL, where the product was sold at N580/litre, there were long queues of motorists who spent hours waiting and fighting one another to buy fuel. As a result, black marketers made brisk business selling to willing buyers at higher prices ranging from N700 to N900.

People living in border communities like Idiroko said they now buy fuel at the rate of N1,200 from black marketers, saying the current scarcity exacerbated the effect of the ban on fuel supply in their areas.

“The 20km ban on fuel supply in border communities is affecting us at the Idiroko border,” said Mr Femi Abel, a civil servant in Ajegunle.

As of Sunday, only the Heyden filling station sold fuel in Iperu, Ikenne Local Government Area of Ogun State, and there was a long queue of buyers.

Along the Mowe-Ibafo corridor of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, our correspondent observed that a number of filling stations were under lock and key.

The NNPCL station near the Sagamu Interchange had long queues. The Danco and Conoil filling stations around the area were also shut. The Petrocam and Habeeb stations at the RCCG Bus Stop also had queues.

It was also observed that filling stations like NIPCO and AP at Mowe, NNPC, Mobil, Enyo, and Amuf at Ibafo were all not selling fuel as of 4 p.m. on Sunday, while there were long queues at the NNPCl outlet along Magboro, all in Ogun State.

In Abeokuta, ConOil, Muheed and MAPOLY filling stations and others in the same area were all shut.

While Fowobi at Onikolobo was selling at N680/litre, Mobil in Itoku sold at N700, while black marketers sold at N1,000 a litre.

Motorists who spoke to one of our correspondents described the situation as a case of no regulation or law guiding the sale of the product.

They complained that filling station owners were selling petrol at arbitrarily fixed prices, which practically affected other household expenditures.

Speaking with one of our reporters, a taxi driver, Idris Ajenifuja, noted that he bought the fuel for N800 per litre somewhere in Saapade shortly before heading to Abeokuta.

He added that the level of hardship in the land could not be understood even by the government because some individuals were taking advantage of the situation to extort the people.

The driver said, “No one can immediately understand the hardship currently faced by the people because the filling station owners are now selling our natural resources to us at a price they decide.

“The government that is supposed to monitor them has refused to do its job. This is becoming very unbearable.“

Also, a fuel attendant, who spoke with one of our correspondents on the condition of anonymity over the fear of being reprimanded, stated that his boss increased the pump price from N650 to N800 without reason.

Speaking with our correspondent on Sunday, Mr Wale Iyanda, a taxi driver, lamented that fuel across Abeokuta was being sold at N700 and N850/litre rates.

Iyanda said, “The situation has continued to worsen because some of the filling stations that sold fuel on Saturday did not open on Sunday.

“The few filling stations that were opened sold a litre for between N700 and N850, although the NNPCL filling stations were selling for N580/litre, but the queue was very long.

“This is disturbing because nobody can say exactly what is causing this scarcity. It is regrettable that we must be left to continue to suffer in this country.”

Mr Rilwan Soyele, a commercial motorcycle rider, said fuel was sold between N830 and N900 in Sagamu.

Soyele said, “Many filling stations are not selling fuel in Sagamu. The least we buy fuel here is N750 and above. Some are even selling a litre at N900.

“It is really frustrating and sad that nobody is saying this is what is causing this scarcity. It is like the oil marketers just wish to punish us, and the government is saying nothing”.

Mr Musibau Fawole, who spoke with one of our correspondents from one of the communities in Ipokia Local Government, explained that a litre of fuel in the border communities went for between N1000 and N1200 per litre.

The PUNCH gathered that the development has raised transport fares, especially among commercial motorcyclists and cab drivers.

Queues spread

Our correspondents observed that queues have spread to many fuel stations in Lagos. At a fuel station at Coker Bus Stop along Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, there was a queue as vehicles and those buying in jerrycans struggled to get fuel.

It was a similar situation at the MRS Fuel station at Ojota along Ikorodu Road, however, the Total filling station just a few meters ahead had fewer vehicles and persons.

The queues at the Mobil Station before the Otedola Bridge section of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway extended on Sunday afternoon. It was almost a chaotic scene of yellow jerry cans and vehicles attempting to gain access from both the entry and exit points.

Meanwhile, some passengers lamented that the fuel scarcity, which started last week, was already straining their daily commute.

While waiting at a fuel station as the bus she boarded waited in the fuel queue, a passenger, Aminat Dele, lamented that there were fewer buses on the road because of the time spent at filling stations.

“Some have parked their vehicles because of this fuel crisis, or they are spending so much time at the fuel stations, so we hardly get a bus, and when we do, the fare is expensive,” Dele lamented.

Out of over 10 outlets along the axis, only the Eterna filling station sold fuel along the Igando-Isheri road.

It was also observed that a Mobil outlet along the same road had yet to open, even though there was a very long queue of drivers waiting to buy fuel.

Also, at Egbeda-Idimu Road, only an NNPCL outlet very close to Orelope Bus Stop was selling PMS.

“This is really not easy. I have been here since I left the church around 12:30 p.m., and I have been in this long queue since then. It is not easy. It is adding extra pressure to Nigerians. The government should try and find a solution to all these,” a motorist at Eterna fuel station, who gave his name as Ayo, told The PUNCH.
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Similarly, the NNPC and Total stations did not dispense fuel on Sunday as people resorted to buying from black marketers at the rate of N900/litre.

Our correspondent also noted that the Jezco filling station at the Oke-Afa bus stop was not selling fuel.

A fuel attendant who identified himself as Mr Rafiu at the Total filling station located along Isolo General Hospital Expressway said the station had a little in its reserve, and they dispensed what was left to customers early in the morning.

It was further noted that the TechnOil filling station at Ire-Akari Junction was closed, while the NNPCL filling station at College Bus Stop did not open for business.

Also, the Mobil filling station at Aye bus stop in Isolo was not dispensing petrol. A long queue of vehicles was seen at the NorthWest filling station along the Gbagada Expressway.

Meanwhile, filling stations in Ondo State are now selling petrol between N650 and 750/litre.

It was observed that the development has caused long queues at the filling stations selling the product, while most of the filling stations in Akure, the state capital, and some major towns in the state were shut.

It was also gathered that some of the filling stations that were not selling had the product but allegedly refused to sell it to make more profits.

A manager of a filling station owned by an independent marketer in Akure, who simply identified himself as Sodiq, explained that the increase in the price of the product was due to the increase in the price from the depot where they were lifting the product.

He said, “We sell for N670/litre, which is one of the cheapest around. But the problem is not from us, it is from the depot. We sell what we buy. We don’t hoard petrol in our station here”.

Scarcity worsens

The transport situation in Ilorin, the Kwara state capital, worsened on Sunday due to the scarcity of Petrol, which forced commercial and private vehicles off the roads.

It was observed that the few petrol stations that were selling fuel witnessed long queues of vehicles

The scarcity had also forced fuel prices to jump to a little below N1,000/litre from the former price of N750, which was sold on Friday when the scarcity started.

Some filling stations selling fuel included Shafa at Geri Alimi, Rainoil and Amorry on Asa Dam Road, NIPCO at Sawmill, and MKJ at Murtala Mohammed Road.

As a result, few vehicles were on the road, and many commuters were stranded at bus terminals, as commercial vehicles had increased transport fares by 100 per cent.

Transport fares ranged between N300 and N500 for a ride on Tricycle, while minibuses charged between N200 and N400 per trip for the same distance in the metropolis.

The cost of the interstate trip had also increased by about 150 per cent, as the fare from Ilorin to Offa skyrocketed to N2,500 from the previous fare of N1,200, while the fare from Ilorin to Ogbomoso 00 per passenger.

A woman who identified herself as Halirat Aribidesi said the transport situation was becoming difficult and worse than that of Saturday, appealing to the government to find a solution to the country’s fuel shortage.

In Osogbo, Ilesa and Ile-Ife in Osun State, business activities were almost paralysed on Sunday due to fuel scarcity as most filling stations shut their doors.

Few ones that were dispensing fuel in Osogbo and Ilesa sold the product for between N680 and N700/litre.

There were long queues at filling stations owned by the major marketers where the product was sold for N680.

Major roads in Osogbo that used to experience heavy traffic were almost deserted, leaving many commuters to trek long distances.

Ekiti motorists groan

In Ekiti, long queues were witnessed at the few filling stations that dispensed fuel to customers, as others had not opened for business.

With the situation, black marketers surfaced in the Ado metropolis, doing brisk business with exorbitant prices while okada operators increased their charges per trip.

A motorist, Tosin Oluwasanmi, who said he could not join the queue, which would take three to four hours, said, “I had no choice than to patronise a black market operator at Iworoko, where I parted with N6,000 for five litres at N1,200/litre.”

A driver, who identified himself as Monday, said the stress of buying at the petrol stations was too much.

“I don’t think the filling stations that opened for business are more than four. That is the reason for the extremely long queues at the stations. They sold for between N720 and N750/litre,” he said

Black market thrives

In Sokoto State, black marketers took advantage of the situation to extort desperate buyers.

Our correspondent’s findings showed that a five-litre gallon of the product now sells for between N10,000 and N13,000 on the streets of Sokoto.

It was gathered that filling stations such as Matrix, Dammarina, AA Rano and others sold the product over the weekend between N710 and N800.

Fuel scarcity bites

Most filling stations in Kaduna metropolis did not sell petroleum products on Sunday, while the few that sold had their pump price hiked to N750.

Black marketers reportedly sold at N1,400 per litre as of the time of filing this report.

Our correspondent monitored the situation and observed long queues at the NNPCL Mega station along Aliyu Makama Way, by Living Faith Church, Barnawa.

This was just as many commuters resorted to trekking to various destinations, especially as commercial vehicle owners increased transport fares.

Gladys Akpojiyovwi told one of our correspondents that she had to pay N400 to Post Office Road from Living Faith, Barnawa, saying it used to be N200.

Marketers begin loading

Meanwhile, oil dealers who transport the commodity to various states nationwide have recommenced loading PMS at the Lagos, Port Harcourt, and Warri jetties.

Oil dealers confirmed that the NNPCL had been able to sort out its logistics problems that triggered petrol scarcity last week, a development that forced the cost of the commodity to hit N800/litre in filling stations, particularly in the North.

Dealers also stated that though NNPC had addressed its problems of logistics, marketers are currently contending with the same problem as they strive to move petrol out of Lagos, Warri, and Port Harcourt to other states.

The PUNCH reported last week how petrol scarcity distorted business activities in Abuja, Niger, Nasarawa, Sokoto, Gombe and many other states, following the inability of the NNPCL to sustain supply.

Although the Dangote Petroleum Refinery has commenced the sale of locally produced Automotive Gas Oil, popularly called diesel, it has not started pumping out petrol, which is more consumed by motorists than diesel.

Also, the Port Harcourt Refining Company, managed by NNPCL, had continued to miss the targets set by both NNPCL and the Federal Government for the plant to commence the production of refined petroleum products.

Hence, petrol is still being imported into Nigeria by NNPCL and any slip by the national oil firm in terms of PMS supply often leads to scarcity and massive queues at filling stations by motorists.

Marketers attributed the current scarcity of petrol to a shortage in NNPC’s supply, while the national oil company blamed it on problems with logistics but stated that it had addressed the concern.

“NNPCL told us that they had a problem with logistics, but the problem is over now, and they will start supplying products to the various depots so that we can go and start loading with immediate effect,” the National President of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Abubakar Maigandi, told our correspondent on Sunday.

He added, “Now that we have started loading, we also have logistics problems because we have to carry products from the private depots to our filling stations, which we have started doing. By God’s grace, I know the queues should clear soon.

“However, I cannot specifically tell you the time because it takes time before we can start moving the products into various states. We are addressing our logistics problem, and we are expecting our members to start loading in full.”

The IPMAN president explained that dealers load products from Lagos, Port Harcourt and Warri depots to other destinations across the country, adding that there was no official plan to hike the price of PMS.

“Products are mainly loaded from Warri, Port Harcourt, and Lagos to other parts of the country, particularly to the northern states. The trucks have started coming in, as some filling stations in Abuja have started getting fuel, but we still have queues because, up until now, some people have been involved in panic buying.

“Many people want to buy because they feel the scarcity will linger till the end of this week or they feel that there is a price change, which is not true. There is no change in price and we have not heard about such a plan.”

The Chief Corporate Communications Officer of NNPC, Olufemi Soneye, also urged motorists not to panic buy petrol because the national oil company had enough.

He also dispelled claims of a possible hike in petrol prices by the company.

Speaking on why retailers hiked the pump price, a marketer said: “For the retailers, they seized the opportunity to make money. Most filling stations have shut down for a long time because of the small margin and they could not raise N25m to buy a truck of petrol, something they used to buy around N5m before.

“35 to 40 per cent of filling stations have closed shops. Those who did not want to close up now contribute money to buy a truck of 33,000 litres to share jointly. Only a few can independently afford one truck. The margin is low, and the sales are low, too.

“If you are in a place where you can’t sell up to 5,000 litres daily, you will be running at a loss by the time you look at your overhead costs, salaries, energy costs, security, and others. This is not a profitable business as of now. If you can’t exhaust a truck in a week, that is not a business.”

Source: punchng.com

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