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FAVOUR ISHEMBER, Abuja with agency report.
Long queues resurfaced in Lagos on Wednesday as motorists spent hours at filling stations to buy Petroleum Motor Spirit (PMS), popularly known as petrol.
The situation was worse on Ikorodu road, Agege Motor Road, Maryland, Ikeja, Anthony, Bariga, Ilupeju and Gbagada areas as motorists were agitated for spending hours in queues.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the development left commuters stranded with gridlocks in major areas of Lagos as motorists queued to buy the product.
NAN also reports that only filling stations owned by the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) had petrol and sell at the regulated price of less than N170 per litre.
Some stations owned by the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) sell between N200 and N210 respectively. For instance, at Orxfield filling station, Ota, Ogun State, the pump machine was dispensing petrol at a cost of N208 per litre as against the official price of between N160 and N179 as of 10.30 am on Wednesday.
A motorist, who identified himself as Mr Foluso Saliu, told NAN that he had been in the queue since 6.30 a.m. hoping to get fuel and return to work.
He said the government should find a lasting solution to the petrol supply in Lagos to avoid panic-buying. “Scarcity has been frequent during the ember months and l hope it will be addressed,” he said.
Another motorist, Mr Julius Albert, urged filling stations to avoid selling petrol in jerry cans to allow vehicles to buy on time. He appealed to the government to fully deregulate the downstream sector of the petroleum industry if that was the solution to the availability of petrol without stress.
According to him, the product seems to be available in some filling stations but they choose to hoard it and sell it at higher prices.
Queues were seen at Mobil, NNPC, Conoil, Oando and Nipco filling stations on Ikorodu road as well as Conoil on Agege Motor Road. The story was different at Mobil filling station and Conoil on Airport Road, Lagos as their gates were shut.
Also, queues were cited at TotalEnergies, TMAAC on Bank Anthony road and Conoil, opposite LASUTH, Ikeja.
Reacting to the situation, the National Operations Controller, IPMAN, Mr Mike Osatuyi, blamed the scarcity on private depots and the increasing difficulty in accessing petroleum products. He said those that had to sell had to go the extra mile to get the product to their filling stations.
He explained that at the moment, most lPMAN members could not source the commodity due to a supply shortage that had lingered.
Besides, he said getting petrol to members’ filling stations from the depots now costs as much as N200 per litre in some instances.
“It is a sad development. Some of my members now pay as much as N200 per litre to buy petrol from the depot, including the cost of transportation and other charges incurred. So, in this situation, how much do you think we will sell petrol at the pump?” he asked.
He maintained that the fuel situation was not likely to ease up except the government found a lasting solution to the supply issue and cost.
According to him, one way to address this is through total deregulation of the downstream sector of the oil industry.
“Total deregulation remains the best solution to ending fuel scarcity. The deregulation of the downstream sector remains the only potent and lasting solution to this scarcity.
“But the cost implication of the policy will make the price of petrol too expensive for Nigerians, as deregulation will shift the burden from the government to users of the product,” Osatuyi said.
He said payment of subsidy was no longer sustainable and urged Nigerians to face reality now to avoid the unpalatable experiences usually associated with scarcity.
NAN reports that petroleum products are no longer pumped through the system 2B pipeline to all the 21-NNPC depots.
However, allocations are given to private depots who add their charges as NNPC Ltd remains the sole importer of PMS.
NAN contacted Mr Farouk Ahmed, the Chief Executive Officer of NMDPRA, but he declined calls and messages.
Mr Ayo Cardoso, the Controller, Lagos and Ogun States of NMDPRA, also declined comment.
Meanwhile, the long fuel queues that characterized major streets in Abuja, the nation’s capital, some weeks ago, have suddenly given way to few vehicles at the fuel stations around the FCT.
This, however, did not come without a change in the pump prices on the dispensing machines.
An investigation by Daily Champion revealed that the cost per litre ranged between N179 to over N200 depending on which filling station you find yourself at. All NNPC filling stations were selling at N179 per litre while other stations sold at divergent prices.
Some residents who spoke to our correspondent on the impact of the new price regime said the increment is not much, to them, as long as the fuel is available for them to buy and therefore comfortable with the new price.
According to them, that would be better than retaining the old price where consumers may sleep in the filling stations just because they want to buy fuel.
However, a transporter, Mr Gbenga Ojo has a different opinion. To him, operators and government agencies must not subject Nigerians to too much suffering before they will fix a pump price. They are the authorities and should always come out straight to Nigerians when they want to increase fuel prices.
As it is, Gbenga said Nigerians and especially the less privileged ones are going through a lot and did not find things easy during the long waiting at the fuel queues.
Nigeria still needs government intervention in prompt regulations of pump prices without much suffering.
“Lastly, for me, I will appreciate if the present pump price can be reduced and fuel should be available at all filling stations for people to buy in the nation’s capital city”, he stated.
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