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Scarcity: Fuel queues ground Lagos, Abuja, others

 …As motorists slam DPR over regulatory failure 

By Louis Iba, Bimbola Oyesola, Adewale Sanyaolu and Dennis Mernyi, Abuja

FUEL queues across major parts of Lagos, the Federal Capital Territory and other states crippled vehicular and human movements yesterday forcing motorists to incur huge man-hour losses.

The situation was more pathetic on the Lagos- Abeokuta Expressway, Ikeja, Alausa, Agidingbi, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lekki-Ajah axis and Surulere. Long queues of motorists in search of fuel dotted virtually all the nooks and crannies of Lagos, leading to chaotic traffic situations.

On the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway for instance, the worrisome situation seen at the Conoil retail outlet at National Bus Stop, stretched to Agege Pen Cinema and Ile Zik areas, forcing motorists to drive against traffic while others that could not contend with the stress made a de-tour.

Along the Airport Road in Lagos, the situation was quite chaotic as the Conoil and Mobil retail outlets were dispensing products, leading to traffic snarl on the corridor up to 7/8 Bus Stop.

Black marketers, however, had a field day as they sold 10 litres of fuel for N2000, especially to desperate motorists hurring to catch up flights.

It was clear to many that the current scarcity has gone from bad to worse in the last two weeks with many car owners opting for public transport as the situation continues to bite harder.

Some motorists who spoke to Daily Sun slammed the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) for failing to provide the much needed regulation in the sector.

They maintained that a lot of retail outlets were selling petrol far above the approved pump price of N86.50k

‘‘We are not feeling the impact of DPR because several retail outlets are taking  motorists for granted and DPR has failed to wield the big stick. Some of them sell for as much as N150 per litre. Even when DPR shuts them down, they re-open in another four to five hours, or at the most, the next day. DPR has become a toothless bulldog. It has failed Nigerians in the discharge of its mandate,’’ they said.

Meanwhile, striking Nigerian oil workers yesterday called off their one-day strike after an all night meeting with the Minister of State for Petroleum and Group Managing Director of NNPC, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu.

The workers under the aegis of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas (NUPENG) and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), had on Wednesday shut the offices of the state-owned oil company across the country on the ground that they were not carried along in the move to restructure the state oil  corporation.

But NNPC in a statement by its Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs, Mr. Ohi Alegbe, explained that the in-house unions reviewed their stance after a decision was reached to set up a committee with representatives from the unions and NNPC management to look into the new NNPC structure with a view to considering any suggested amendment where necessary.

NNPC noted that consensus was reached on other outstanding issues bordering on pension matters, job security as well as staff performance and appraisal.

But the National Operations Controller of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Mr. Mike Osatuyi, in an interview in Abuja, faulted the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) for giving the NNPC 78 per cent import allocation, leaving 22 per cent to other marketers.

He also bemoaned the products sharing and  distribution formula across the country, saying some sections were more favoured than others, giving rise to immense pressure on the market and the supply chain, a development he said, if not reversed, the country may not come out of the fuel scarcity anytime soon.

In a related development, commuters in Lagos, yesterday, had an hectic time moving from one location to another as the fuel supply crisis which has been lingering for over a month appears to have worsened keeping most commercial vehicles off the road.

Commuters complained that cost of transport on some routes had doubled on commercial buses and for both tricycles and motorcycles. Ruth Ukeme, who said she learns a bridal bead making trade on Allen Avenue, Ikeja, told Daily Sun she now pays between N150 and N200 from Agege to Ikeja Bus Stop, a journey that she explained usually went for either N100  or N50.

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