By Clara Nwachukwu, Abdulwahab Abdulah & Demola Akinyemi
Several states in the South-West, including Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Ondo and Kwara, will suffer petroleum products shortages, pending when the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, is able to repair the Arepo distribution pipeline, which erupted in flames following the vandalisation.
The pipeline repairs might take a little while, as NNPC told Vanguard that it cannot afford to send more men to the site of the damaged pipeline, since the first batch of engineers were abducted and killed, while trying to repair the pipelines last week.
Fuel scarcity crept into Lagos, weekend, and by yesterday, many of the filling stations were locked, while the few that had fuel had long lines of queues.
The General Manager, Media, NNPC, Dr. Farouk Ibrahim, while insisting on the corporation’s claim of 33 days sufficiency, told Vanguard in a telephone chat, yesterday, that the current scarcity is not as a result of products shortages but due to distribution challenges on account of the pipeline vandalism.
He said: “What is happening now is not fuel shortages but disruption of the distribution channels. With the damage of the Arepo pipeline it has become very difficult to evacuate petroleum products in Lagos and other neighbouring states.”
He also noted that the damaged pipeline carries between 9 and 11 million litres of fuel daily, adding that efforts to evacuate products by trucking has not proved as effective and efficient as the pipelines, as “most of the private depots have not developed enough infrastructure for trucking.”
Confirming the distribution hiccups, a top management of the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, the regulator of the industry also confirmed on telephone that with the damage of the Arepo pipeline, petroleum products cannot be pumped from the Atlas Cove Jetty to the following depots in Ejigbo (Lagos), Mosimi (Ogun), Ore (Ondo), Ibadan (Oyo), and Ilorin (Kwara).
The source said: “With his kind of challenge, definitely supply will be slowed down, and we cannot say how long this will last until NNPC repairs the pipeline.”
Meanwhile, NNPC said it will issue a statement on the development, adding that it will send men to the damaged pipelines only when the security operatives have assured the management of the safety of its workers.
In Lagos, fuel attendants in few filling stations selling fuel in Alimosho area of the state have increased fuel price from the official N97 to N100 and above. Our correspondent was made to pay N115 at a filling station in Aboru, Iyana-Ipaja, a suburb of Lagos.
His refusal to pay the unofficial price drew the anger of other motorists, who had been in the queue for hours.
Attendants at the other stations that were not selling fuel told motorists that there was “no fuel, because we couldn’t get supply since last week.”
Though, some of them opened shop for diesel and kerosene, they maintained there was no supply of petrol.
In Ilorin, motorists went through hard times before they could buy fuel to engage in their daily activities. Commuters were stranded as the busy streets in Ilorin were deserted by commercial buses, taxis, okadas and keke (tricycles).
Vanguard checks revealed that this development was prompted by the scarcity of petroleum products in the state capital and its environs. Reports from other major towns from Offa, Omu-Aran, Erin-Ile, Share, Bode-Saadu were all the same.
It was gathered that the fuel was selling at some filling stations in the boarder towns at between N120 and N130 per litre. Some of the residents, who spoke with our correspondent in Ilorin, yesterday, appealed to the Federal Government to urgently intervene and address the scarcity.
In his reaction, National Publicity Secretary of Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, Alh Lai Mohammed, blamed the Federal Government for the development, stressing that it has bluntly refused to take the bull by the horn by ridding the sector of corruption.
Mohammed particularly described the ongoing trial of the subsidy suspects as mockery, as all the suspects were walking freely on the streets.