Petrol scarcity cannot end now – marketers

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By Tajudeen Atitebi

Lagos, Nov. 26, 2022 – The current petrol scarcity in Lagos and some other parts of the county may linger than expected in spite of promises by some marketers that normal supply will be restored by this weekend.

The petrol supply situation has worsened in Lagos since it started early in the week and many vehicles have been forced to stay off the road.

Commercial vehicles have taken advantage of the situation to charge arbitrarily higher fares.

Workers and traders, who cannot afford the higher fares, are forced to walk to their offices and places of trade. 

Mallam Aliyu Mohammed, a security officer at Guinness in Ikeja, said he was forced to walk to his house in Egbeda in Alimosho area of Lagos last night, a distance of about 15 kilometers, as he could not afford the higher fares being charged by the commercial buses.

He said he was charged N700 instead of the usual fare of between N200 and N300.

Madam Muniratu Lawal, a trader in Iyana Ipaja in Lagos, said she paid N300 instead of the normal fare of N100 to her house in Abule Egba.

Mr Joe Henry, a salesman on Lagos Island, said he had been spending an average of N3,000 on fares from his house in Ikeja to his office daily since Wednesday when the petrol scarcity began to take its toll on passengers.

Although officials of petrol marketers association had promised that fuel supply across Lagos State would abate by this weekend, some discerning stakeholders are saying this could not be as there are fundamental problems to address before normalcy could be restored to petrol supply across the country.

“The promise that petrol supply will be restored by this weekend can not  be realistic given the situation on the ground now. As at today, many petrol stations have not received petrol supply and they have long queues already.

“Imagine what the situation will be by Monday when many people will want to be on the road again,”  an observer said

Mr Clement Isong, the spokesman for the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), had told journalists earlier in the week that the problem of logistics which was the issue had been resolved.

He said his members were already loading the product at the depots and petrol would be available everywhere in Lagos by this weekend.

But as at today, Saturday, the scarcity has taken a worse dimension as many more petrol stations are without fuel.

Investigation by a correspondent of Global Business News (GBN) in Lagos indicated that the problem of petrol scarcity across Nigeria cannot be resolved as soon as some marketers are promising.

Mr Mike Osatuyi, the Operations Controller of Independent Private Marketers Association (IPMAN), said that the causes of constant petrol shortages across the country were myriad.

he identified low and irregular importation of petrol by NNPC and pricing as the more important ones.

The NNPC, the regulatory agency in the oil and gas sector, is the sole importer of petrol into the country. It also regulates the retail price of petrol across the country.

The current regulated pump price of petrol is between N169 and N170 per litre, while the ex-depot price is fixed at N145 per litre.

The independent marketers have alleged that NNPC had stopped importing enough petrol to meet demand in the country.

They said that, hitherto, NNPC was importing an average of 103 million liters of petrol per day, but it had cut it to 60 million liters per day due of issues of naira exchange rate and the war between Russia and Ukraine which had created bottlenecks around importation.

The marketers said that the low supply situation had precipitated new problems at the depots and the NNPC pricing regime was no longer acceptable to them.

Osatuyi said that marketers could no longer sell at the regulated prices because the unsteady supply of petrol had resulted in higher prices at the depots.

“Our members, who find it difficult to get the product, pay an average of N200 per liter to buy petrol at the depots. Consequently we are compelled to sell at higher prices to cover costs.

He said that for them to sell comfortably, they must sell between the rand of N220 and N240 per litre.

Osatuyi said that government was finding it difficult to continue subsidizing the price of petrol and advised that total deregulation would be the solution.

He urged the government to allow the private sector to import petrol as it is being done to aviation fuel, diesel and kerosene. (GBN)

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