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Fuel scarcity lingers as marketers lobby at depots


Filling stations decry high cost, sell at N130

Fuel-ScarcityA PALL of continued fuel scarcity hung over the nation yesterday as petroleum marketers found it difficult purchasing the product for their filling stations. They thronged the depots at Apapa, engaging in intensive lobbying for the supply of fuel.

The Guardian learnt that some of the depot owners held an emergency meeting early yesterday over the development.

Meanwhile, the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) still sells between N110 and N130 at some filling stations across the country, with the level of compliance to the official pump price of N86.50k at the barest minimum.

Irked by the lingering situation, consumers in Enugu and Anambra states have flayed the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) for allegedly under-regulating the industry.

The depot owners have also lamented the high import cost elements that are not featured in the template designed by the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).

The PPPRA template as at yesterday, showed cost plus freight of N65.50 per litre, lifting expenses, N2.02; Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), N0.36; financing (SVH), N0.31; jetty depot thru-put charges, N0.60; storage, N2.00; landing cost of N70.80 and distribution margins cost of N14.30 giving a total of N85.10, while the retail price is pegged at N86.50 per litre.

According to the Chief Executive Officer, Integrated Oil and Gas Limited, Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho, the best thing for the government to do now is withdraw subsidy which would save a huge amount of money into government coffers to be used for developmental projects.

He said that the situation at hand was more worrisome as the depot operators were enmeshed in cost parity challenges which were putting them at the risk deficit.

“What they should do is to deregulate completely. They should not be physically regulating the price and quantities in the market because if they don’t get their quantities right, there is going to be shortages all the time.

“There are so many elements of cost that are not captured in the official data we have seen published. There are so many things that happen in real life when you are bringing in cargoes. For instance, if you buy a cargo from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) with the assumption that the cargo will be delivered to your jetty and you wait, you will never get it.

“You will need to hire and this will cost about N20 million to N30 million, which also has to be accounted for in your cost details. So I think that the best way to go is full deregulation. We must allow the price and the volumes to match in line with the supply and demand factors,” he said.

Reports show that many of the depots have also failed to comply with the N77.00 ex-depot price, as a marketer claimed to have purchased fuel around N80.00 per litre from a depot in the Apapa area of Lagos.

The marketer, who identified himself as Ben Majiyagbe, said he decided to buy the product because he could not keep the station locked leaving people to suffer from scarcity.

“We have to buy it like that and sell at whatever price that will be profitable for us. It is better to sell at a higher price than not sell at all. If we do not sell petrol, many people will be stranded and there will be complaints everywhere.”

In defiance to the Federal Government’s directive, most petrol stations in Ondo State have shut down their services, thereby imposing hardship on the people of the state.

The situation took another dimension in Akure, the capital of the state and other neighbouring towns yesterday when the independent marketers protested against the new pump price.

The Guardian learnt that the marketers all agreed to shut down operation in protest against the N86.50k per litre which the Federal Government mandated them to sell to the end users.

A visit to many of the service stations revealed long queues of customers waiting to buy petrol into their cars, motorcycles and cans, but were locked out of the premises amid the expectation that the product was available.

The Chairman of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) Ore Depot, BayoOlowokere, disclosed that many marketers did not open for operation because they had no product to sell at the Federal Government’s regulated price of N86.50 per litre.

Olowokere, who said the 50k reduction of the price was ridiculous, noted that the Federal Government could not force the independent marketers to be selling at the new official price because they did not buy the product at the regulated price.

“As I am speaking to you, in Ore, no marketer has bought the product at the regulated price. The reduction is ridiculous, but the question is that are we getting the product at the regulated price? That is what we are fighting for.”

He also referred to the inadequate supply of the commodity from the NNPC depots as an excuse, which inevitably led many independent marketers to buy at different private depots across the country at different prices.

The only petrol station selling petrol in the whole of Akure metropolis, sold to an endless queue of customers at the rate of N130 per litre. A situation, which a commuter described as “suffering and smiling in a new year.”

Meanwhile, in Enugu and Anambra states, the residents have vented their anger at officials of DPR for allegedly not enforcing the new pricing system for fuel in their area.

Speaking with journalists in Enugu, an engineer, Ralph
Ndigwe expressed shock that filling stations in Enugu and Anambra
states had been selling fuel for N130 a litre despite directives
from NUPENG and Federal Government for them to sell at the official price.

Ndigwe, a former National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo noted that in other parts of the country, DPR officials had been moving about enforcing the new pricing system and sanctioning defaulters but in the South-East zone, especially Enugu and Anambra states, it has remained business as usual for the marketers who continue to sell fuel at N130 per litre.

Ndigwe challenged relevant authorities to take necessary action on the matter alleging that DPR officials in the two states have been compromised by the marketers.

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