By UDEME CLEMENT
If the Federal Government does not take proactive steps to improve importation of petroleum products and boost the supply chain for products to be sufficient ahead of the yuletide, the lingering scarcity of petrol across the country may worsen.
Sunday Business gathered that the scarcity of petrol, which hit Lagos and some neighbouring States few months ago has taken a new dimension, as cost of transportation and food items are skyrocketing following the persistent scarcity.
Notwithstanding the assurance given by the Minister of Petroleum, Mrs Diezani Alliso-Madueke, about the effort of Government to increase the supply of petroleum products to prevent scarcity during the festive period, a litre of fuel in some service outlets was, last week, sold for about N150, as against the official pump price of N97.
Transport fares on many routes have shot up by over 20 per cent in Lagos , while the prices of consumable items in the market are increasing by the day. Many economic experts attributed the increase in the prices of goods and services to the multiplier effect of fuel shortage across the country.
When Sunday Business visited Ketu and Mile 12 markets in Lagos, it was observed that a bag of rice was sold for between N10, 000 and N10,500 instead of the initial price of N8,000; a tin of vegetable oil for N1,900 instead of N1,500, a unit of six tubers of yam for N1,800 and above depending on the sizes, instead of N1,200; a medium sized basket of tomato for N11,000 and above instead of N7,000.
It was also observed that some filling stations were not selling petrol because they had no supply of product. Some of the stations visited include MRS, Oando, NIPCO, Conoil, Total, Mobil and AP.
When contacted, the Western Zonal Chairman, National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Alhaji Tokunbo Korodo, said, “There is no solution to the lingering petrol scarcity unless the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) urgently repairs Arepo distribution pipelines vandalised recently by hoodlums, in order to boost fuel supply to Western axis of System 2B. The reality is that the people within the region where fuel is supplied through the Western axis of system 2B of NNPC will continue to experience scarcity until the Arepo pipelines are repaired.”
He went on, “At present, NNPC is supplying fuel with trucks, but, without these pipelines, there is no way the trucking of product can be effectively done to meet the increasing demand in the country. The damaged pipelines are the sources of product to Mosimi, the headquarters of system 2B in Shagamu while from Mosimi, the product is pumped to Ibadan , from there to Ilorin , and from Mosimi again to Ore and Lagos .
“Therefore, the continuous denial of the distribution network makes all the areas getting supply of petrol from the axis of system 2B to have shortage of fuel. Again, what NNPC is doing now is not helping the situation. What we are saying is that the scarcity will persist until the pipelines are fixed to ensure effective distribution of product.”