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Reps Invite Minister Over Lingering Petrol Scarcity

• NNPCL, MEMAN: it’ll be over soon
• Pay N200b claims, says IPMAN

Worried by lingering petrol scarcity across the country, the House of Representatives yesterday invited Minister of State (Petroleum Resources) Heineken Lokpobiri for briefing on way out of the crisis.

But the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) and Major Energies Marketers Association of Nigeria (MEMAN) assured that normalcy was being restored.

Queues and crippling shortage of the product continued in most parts of the country.

The invitation of the Petroleum Resources minister by the House followed the adoption of a motion on a matter of urgent importance by Umar Ajilo.

Also summoned were relevant stakeholders in the petroleum industry.

Before the invitations were made, the  House expressed worry over the pains Nigerians were going through  due to the scarcity and rising cost of petrol.

The House was also concerned that the NNPCL  has  yet to ’’address this perennial and persistent fuel scarcity problem faced by Nigerians despite the volume of resources at its disposal.’’

Ajilo said: “Most worrisome is that all these economic quagmires have made the lives of average Nigerians unbearable with a litre of fuel selling as much as N1,200 in some states of the federation.

“This 10th Assembly must rise to the occasion to ensure that lasting measures are taken to address this unfortunate and embarrassing situation permanently in the interest of all Nigerians.”

The NNPCL said yesterday it hoped that normalcy would return today, MEMAN which said its members and their partners had started evacuating 300 million litres of petrol from Apapa and other parts of Lagos, believes the scarcity would end in a few days.

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Also yesterday, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) threatened to direct its members to shut filling stations should the Federal Government fail to pay over N200 billion owed them during the subsidy regime era.

NNPCL, through its spokesman, Olufemi Soneye, said it was optimistic that the queues at petrol stations would be ‘’cleared out between today (yesterday)  and tomorrow (today).”

Soneye said: “Unfortunately, we experienced a three-day disruption in distribution due to logistical issues, which has since been resolved.

“However, as you know, overcoming such disruptions typically requires double the amount of time to return to normal operations.

“Thankfully, product scarcity has been minimal lately, but these folks might be exploiting the situation for unwarranted gain.’’

MEMAN, a body made up of major petrol marketers in the country, told reporters that there was an adequate supply of petrol to meet demands.

Its  Chairman   Huub Stokman, said the 300 million litres being evacuated were well above the normal levels previously being trucked by his members.

He empathised with Nigerians over the supply disruption, saying  ‘’We expect the situation to improve in the coming days as supply chains adjust and stabilise.

 “Our top priority is to restore stability and ensure that fuel supplies reach all depots and retail outlets across Nigeria promptly.

‘’While the current situation has been challenging, we want to reassure the public that there is an adequate supply of PMS.

‘’ Our members in Apapa and other locations in Lagos are taking   product from eight vessels this week with over 300 million litres of PMS, well above our normal levels. We are actively coordinating with our member companies through swaps and other supply arrangements to ensure member stations remain stocked.

‘’Our depots will extend their loading times to ensure we load out as much as we can, including tomorrow (today).

“The Downstream Regulator, NMDPRA and other key stakeholders across the supply chain are fully engaged and supportive to eliminate the queues as swiftly as possible.

“Our partners in Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) and Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) have assured us of their support in ensuring the product gets to the retail outlets safely and quickly.

‘’We also will extend the opening times of selected retail outlets to ensure we can service our customers as long and as safely as possible. Independent marketers’ depots and stations are being allocated additional PMS to alleviate the situation.”

IPMAN demands payment of N200b bridging debt
The  IPMAN  depot chairmen said the Federal Government needed to pay over N200 billion  owed them for transporting petrol across the country during the subsidy regime.

The chairmen  said they had  resolved  to withdraw  their ‘’services, close

every single outlet, and suspend lifting of products forthwith’’ if the sum was not paid ‘’within the shortest period of time by the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA).

Aba Depot Chairman of the association   Oliver Okolo read their communiqué to reporters.

 Okolo said: “If our demands are not met within the shortest period of time, we have already put our members on standby across the nation, as law-abiding citizens, we are collectively prepared to withdraw our services.

 “Every marketer’s outlet across Nigeria, from the North to the South, and from the East to the West, will be shut down.

  “It is with a total sense of dismay and deep frustration that we have assembled here today, as the IPMAN Depot Chairmen Forum.

“We are extremely distressed and depressed by the laidback attitude of the leadership of the Nigerian Midstream Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), towards the survival of our member’s businesses, arising from NMDPRA’s  delay and refusal in offsetting the debt of over N200 billion owed our members, which has consequently led to the deaths of many of our members and the unfortunate collapse of their business.’’

 Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria (PETROAN) refuted allegations that its members were profiteering from the scarcity.

The association claimed that its members never sold petroleum products at their stations above NNPC’s approved selling price. 

Its Chairman, Billy Gillis-Harry  said: “  A couple of weeks ago, petroleum products in many of our members’ stations across the country never sold beyond what was approved by NNPC’s selling price.

“Now,   most retail outlets’ owners, in order to serve Nigerians are doing everything possible to just make sure that they have even 5,000 litres in their filling stations to be in business.

“But don’t forget, whether there is a product or not, we must meet our overheads and these overheads are consistent, they do not change or fluctuate. When there is no product, we don’t send our staff packing; we keep them working.”

Lagos
The few filling stations that dispensed petrol had long queues of vehicles stretching some meters.

Across the Lagos metropolis yesterday, queues were still seen inside and outside most filling stations dispensing the scarce product to desperate commercial and private users.

Pump prices at stations operated by NNPCL dealers remained at N567. At those operated by major marketers, it was not more than N610 and between N650 and N700 at independent stations.

However, black market operators sold a litre at N1,000. 

Badagry was the worst hit yesterday. Many of its residents were left stranded as most commercial vehicles plying the area did not operate due to the scarcity. The situation led to a hike in transport fares. It cost N1,500   to get to Mile 2 by bus instead of  N800.  

Johnson Afilaka, a resident said he could not go to work due to the increase in transport fare.

 “Today, we have queued up for buses, but none has come. A few taxis that came raised their fares so high,’’ he said.

FCT
In the Federal Capital Territory, there were longer queues yesterday at petrol stations than on Monday. 

 Residents who had their first taste of the scarcity last week paid more at stations operated by both major and independent marketers.

 While some sold the product for between N700 and N830 per litre, black marketers sold for  N1,000 and above.

A taxi driver,   Joseph Aba, said: “I can’t even sight any station that is selling fuel on this Gwagwala -Zuba Expressway right now.

“But in the morning, three fuel stations sold for a few minutes.”

Ogun TRACE deploys personnel
The Ogun Traffic Compliance and Enforcement Corps (TRACE)  deployed its personnel in various petrol stations to maintain order at the few stations that had stock to dispense.

 South-West Zonal Commander of TRACE, Adekunle Ajibade,  said the measure was to stop desperate motorists from parking indiscriminately.

   He also admonished the residents to refrain from using jerry cans to buy petrol and keep the same in their vehicles or at their homes.

Osun
In Osogbo, the Osun State capital, the  Taskforce on Petroleum Price Monitoring warned owners of petrol stations against hoarding the product.

Kazeem Akinleye, the chairman of the task force and Chief of Staff to   Governor  Ademola Adeleke, said they found out that most filling stations were hoarding the product.

Also in the state,  The Osun Masterminds (TOM), advised the Federal Government to shut down schools and save pupils and students the pains caused by the lingering petrol scarcity.

 TOM’s  Executive Secretary, Prof.  Wasiu Oyedokun-Alli, also said the scarcity had crippled the transportation system across the country.

 Oyedokun-Alli called on the Federal Government to act immediately   to ‘’stop the untold hardship that Nigerians are going through.“

He said: “Nigerians have faced one of the toughest experiences of their lives during this fuel scarcity. Students have had to return home, unable to get to their respective schools due to a shortage of public transportation.

“The economy is getting crippled by the day as workers and informal sector operators are also unable to get to their places of work. We recommend the shutting down of schools maybe for a few weeks while this scarcity lasts to avoid the children and their parents suffering unduly.”

There was also no relief for residents of Ondo, Rivers,  Kwara, Kano, Adamawa, Niger, Plateau, Taraba and Jigawa states as the scarcity lingered.

Many complained that the development has not only had negative impacts on businesses but on their homes.

While some, especially workers and traders lamented that they had been forced to trek long distances to their offices and shops because of the high cost of transportation, others said they had chosen to stay at home till the situation improved.

  Pump price of petrol in the states was N670  to N1,000 at the stations in the states and above N1,200 in black markets. NATION 

 Hardcore News

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