By Samuel Oyadongha and EMMA UNA
When the current long queues resurfaced in filling stations in the predominantly riverine Bayelsa State two weeks ago, many did not believe it would persist this long due to the government call on residents not to embark on panic buying as everything was being done to address the scarcity.
However, the situation in the state has deteriorated to the extent that most car owners have since abandoned their vehicles at home due to the stress involved in the procurement of the product.
Also, the fuel scarcity in town is further compounded by the epileptic electricity supply to most part of the capital city with the result that residents are made to struggle for the product with car owners to power their generating sets.
Virtually all the filling stations in the state have since closed shop due to the non availability of the product while the few stations dispensing fuel are characterized by long queues.
Jerry cans of different sizes from black marketers now donned the nooks and crannies of the state capital on account of what sources blamed on shortfall in supply to the state by the Department of Petroleum Resources, Port- Harcourt.
Some black marketers who spoke to Saturday Vanguard on condition of anonymity said they got their supply from filling stations in Yenagoa many of which are under lock and key.
According to them, they bought a litre at N130 and sold same between N250 and N300 at the black market.
The cost, they argued is determined by the bargaining skill or desperation of buyers.
Interestingly, these fuel hawkers are clustered in front of the shut down filling stations where desperate motorists sought after them to purchase fuel.
Our correspondent, who went around Yenagoa and its environs, observed that only the NNPC mega filling station along the Sani Abacha expressway was dispensing fuel at the official N97 pump price. The other few retail outlets were selling between N130 and N150 but with their pumps adjusted and under dispensing to unsuspecting motorists.
Saturday Vanguard check further revealed that most motorists now leave their homes early as 4.30am to queue up for fuel at the NNPC mega filling station selling at the official N97 per litre.
Sometimes the queue at the filling station span the entire length of the expressway to the Amarata end.
Ironically, transport fare within the state capital had remained stable in spite of the high cost of the product in the black market. It is however left to be seen how long this would last if the scarcity persist.
But the worst hit by the biting scarcity is maritime sector where water crafts consumed more fuel than vehicles plying the roads.
The high cost of fuel, it was learnt, is already having its toll on the operators many of whom cannot procure the product in the hinterland due to the biting scarcity. The number of boats sailing to the hinterland from the Yenagoa jetties were few Wednesday due to the lingering scarcity and the high cost of purchasing same from the black market operators.
Calabar: Scarcity persists , as Nigerian Navy Impounds ship with 15,000 tones of PMS
CALABAR- THE Fuel scarcity which started in Cross River State in the last week of February is persisting and is biting even harder as few filling stations are dispensing the product to motorists.
Calabar, the state capital is the most hit as the product is only available in the black market where young men move around selling the product at very exorbitant rates. A litre sells for between N250 and N300 and much of it is adulterated with kerosene which is available and still sells for N120 a litre.
Some motorists do take trips outside Calabar to buy fuel for their cars in places like Odukpani, Akamkpa amd Ugep about fifty kilometers away. A trip outside Calabar shows that beginning from Odukpani local government area which adjoins to Ogoja which is some 400 kilometres away, some filling stations still dispense fuel to motorists but at prices ranging from N130 to N200 per litre.
The scarcity has led to long queues at bus stops while the cost of transportation and other services have gone up. For instance, taxi fares that used to be N50 and N100 for short distances within the city have increased to N100 and N200 respectively for the same distances.
Also, prices for services like internet, barbing, hairdressing, laundry and computer services have tripled. Internet services that used to be N200 per hour is now N400 while barbing of hair that used to cost N300 in a standard barber’s salon now cost N500.
On why the scarcity persists, a source at the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, attributes it to lack of delivery of the product to its depot in Calabar occasioned by delays in the signing of documents for the importation of the product into the country.
“Our refineries are not functioning, so the petroleum products we use in this country are imported and this quarter, the authorities are yet to sign documents for importation of the product. It will take about a month before the situation will stabilize because the documentation and importation has to go through some processes before bringing in the product”.
Mr Michael Udo, the Chairman of Independent Petroleum Marketers, IPMAN said the filling stations are shut because there are no products in the stations; it is only when we have products that we can sell”.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Navy Ship Victory ,NNS Victory in Calabar which impounded a giant sea vessel, M.T. Diddi suspected to be involved with irregularities in the process of moving 15,000 tons of Premium Motor Spirit , PMS, has ordered the product to be discharged into the jetty for onward sale to marketers to reduce the scarcity.
Owners of M.T. Diddi vessel, Sea Transport Services Nigeria limited, however, insist the vessel was on a normal transportation of petroleum product to Dozzy oil and Gas in Calabar and it has nothing to do with bunkering or illegal transaction.
They argued that the vessel which had carried legal activities within Lome, Lagos and the West African cost had received a discharge order from Dozzy oil and Gas to discharge PMS to Dozzy from offshore Lome in Togo.