Pains without end… Lagosians, others groan as fuel scarcity bites harder
DESPITE assurances by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its downstream subsidiary, the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC) that there was 1.2 billion litres of petrol in stock capable of tackling the ongoing fuel scarcity in Lagos State and the entire nation, there seems to be no end in sight to the lingering fuel problem.
As a result, Lagosians and citizens across the states were subjected to harrowing experiences during the weekend as they groaned while spending long hours at petrol stations in search of fuel.
Car owners, transporters that operate within the state and inter-states, tricycle operators, motorcycle operators, commuters and those under the scourge of constant power outage in need of fuel to run their generators, were all at the receiving end.
Some of petrol stations, especially the Independent Oil Marketers have capitalised on the situation to hike the price the product, with some selling as high as N150 per litre.
Many others remained under lock and key preferring to sell only to motorists and black market operators at night. But the managing director of the PPMC, Prince Haruna Momoh, last week said the volume of product in stock translated to 31 days sufficiency going by the 40 million daily consumption rate of the product in the country, saying 21 additional vessels laden with petroleum products are offshore, waiting to berth.
He added that the NNPC had made adequate arrangements to ensure energy sufficiency in the country and reassured motorists that the noticeable queues at the filling stations would thin out in the days ahead.
Before then, the Federal Government had reached a truce with Major Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) and the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) over alleged balance of N200 billion subsidy debt, thereby giving hopes of an end to the lingering fuel scarcity across the country after citizens witnessed a traumatic week of fuel scarcity.
But the experience of citizens at the weekend was not different from the previous weeks as they were again made to pay more to commute and also buy petrol.
An Ikeja resident, Williams Aruna, said he paid more than N400 from the normal N250 to reach his destination in Apapa because of the hike in transport fare. According to him, he was forced to use public transport when he could not get fuel after spending hours on queue at the Mobil filling station near Otedola Estate, along Lagos-Ibadan expressway without getting the premium product.
He said: “I waited to get the product only for the stock to finish just when the car before mine was being served.” “You could imagine the frustration when this happened and I decided not to buy from the black market operators, but to take public transport,” he added.
Another motorist, Nduka Emmanuel, said he was forced to cancel all engagements out side Lagos, as he could not “joke” with the little supply he had.
“I think the present and outgoing government has the lion share of the blame for this scarcity and should, therefore, proffer solution to disabuse the minds of Nigerians that the decrease in pump price in the first place was not intended to woo the citizens to support the administration and that the present impasse is not a deliberate intention to punish Nigerians and frustrate the in-coming government.”
Respite may be far from the lingering fuel crisis, as indications emerged that the acute shortage of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), otherwise known as petrol may continue for some time, due to marketers’ apprehension over their alleged N200 billion subsidy balance.
The Guardian investigations revealed that the petroleum marketers have continued to ration products thereby forcing consumers to resort to the black-market or buying above pump price.
The marketers who spoke with The Guardian yesterday confirmed that they have smaller products compared to the demand at depots.
Indeed, they lamented that many of the marketers have paid for products with their tickets duty certified but there were no products to roll out, and this eventually called for the rationing of products.
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has urged the Federal Government to tell Nigerians what is responsible for the ongoing debilitating fuel scarcity that has further worsened the sufferings inflicted on the citizens.
The party through its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in a statement said the fact that the scarcity has persisted, has put a lie to the government’s well-worn line that the long queues at filling stations were caused by panic buying.
“The implication is that Nigerians should brace up for more fuel scarcity in the weeks and months ahead, even if the current one is resolved one way or another,” it said.