Business

Fuel scarcity: Economic activities grounded as marketers, transporters hike prices

… Kachikwu activates task force

By Louis Iba, Adewale Sanyaolu and Dennis Mernyi, Abuja

As the acute shortage of petrol entered its third day yesterday, petroleum marketers got busy Monday making brisk business from motorists with a litre of petrol selling for N120 and above.

Findings by Daily Sun across the Lagos metropolis revealed that the situation was virtually the same at most retail outlets visited.

A marketer who confided in Daily Sun, disclosed that the hike in price of petrol should be blamed on depot operators who are selling above the ex-depot price of N76.50k per litre.

“By the time you add other ancillary costs, both legal and illegal, you would realise there is no way we could sell the product at the official pump price of N86.50k.

Any fuel station selling at that rate must have adjusted its meter in order to maximise profit,’’ he said.

But to douse the tension, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Ibe Kachikwu, has directed the full activation of an Intra-Ministerial Joint Monitoring Task Force comprising officials of Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), to enforce compliance with laid down rules and regulations governing the supply and distribution of petroleum products.

Majority of the outlets dispensing had long queues of vehicles, thus compounding the traffic situation, especially at Ikeja along where vehicular queue stretched as far as Ile Zik Bus Stop on Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, due to the congestion of Forte Oil near the Domestic wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport.

The situation was the same on Ikorodu Road,  Awolowo Way in Ikoyi, Lagos, Oworonshoki and Total station at Second Rainbow Bus Stop, on the ever busy Apapa-Oshodi Expressway.

The development also provided black market operators an opportunity to make brisk business out of customers.

For instance, black market operators on Airport Road, Lagos, sold 10 litre of fuel to desperate motorists N1,700 instead of the pump price rate of N865. Similarly, transportation cost within Lagos yesterday rose by 50 per cent as transporters blamed worsening fuel supply in the state for the spike.

In the early morning hours, journey between Abule Egba and Oshodi on commuter buses rose to about N200 from the average fare of N100 or N150 while most taxi drivers also jerked up fares to about N2,000 on routes where they usually charge N1,500.

Transporters said accessing fuel had become a nightmare over the weekend as most of the stations had shut down complaining they had run out of stock.

Daily Sun’s visit to most filling stations located along the Oshodi-Abeokuta, Lagos-Ibadan and Oshodi-Apapa roads in Lagos revealed that majority of them had shut down operations and the few attendants who volunteered to speak said they had no fuel inside their storage tanks to dispense to customers.

The scarcity, however, created severe traffic with long queues of vehicles on the routes where few filling stations like RMS, Oando and Forte Oil had opened up to customers.

It was feared that if the crisis is not speedily resolved, transport fares might rise by over 100 per cent this week on both inter and intra-state routes.

Meanwhile, NNPC said it has stepped up collaboration with the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) and other downstream industry players to end the resurgence of fuel queues in some major cities across the country, especially in Lagos and environs. 

The corporation, in a statement released  on Monday, said it has secured the commitment of the leadership of MOMAN for effective collaboration in this regard and assured that the queues will disappear in the days ahead as supplies are ramped up across the country. 

It noted that to achieve this, truck-out to filling stations in the Lagos area has been increased from the regular 245 to 295 trucks per day (9.7 million) while truck-out to fuel stations in Abuja from Suleja depot has been stepped up to 210 trucks per day (6.9 million litres) from the regular supply of 160 trucks per day.

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