By Jimitota Onoyume, Sebastine Obasi, Michael Eboh, Ediri Ejoh & Prince Okafor
ABUJA— Motorists faced hard times as the fuel crisis situation continued across the country over the weekend with long queues witnessed in almost all the petrol stations selling the products.
The situation was worsened by the fact that a number of the petrol stations were shut, with the attendants claimingthat they do not have products in their tanks.
Motorists besieged the few petrol stations that are selling the product, spending between four and six hours on the queue in some cases.
At the NNPC mega station, Katampe, along the Abuja-Kaduna expressway, about 300 cars were on the queue struggling to buy the products.
A similar scenario was witnessed in almost all the petrol stations dispensing the product at the Central Business District.
At the NIPCO petrol station at Arab Road in Kubwa, large number of vehicles were struggling to purchase the product, leading to a gridlock which made it difficult for other road users to ply the road.
In Gwarimpa, most of the petrol stations were shut, while the few that had the product were besieged by a large number of motorists.
Same situation played out in Utako, Jabi, Maitama, Dutse, Garki, Nyanya, Wuse, Asokoro and Airport Road among others.
To make matters worse, a number of the petrol stations besieged by motorists were dispensing fuel to vehicles using only two pumps.
One of the marketers in one of the petrol stations told Vanguard that it resorted to the use of only two pumps because the tanks that service the other pumps were empty.
Some motorists told Vanguard that the situation has led to a number of sharp practices by some marketers who now prefer to sell above the stipulated price, while some sell only at nocturnal hours to black marketers.
The situation has seen a rise in fuel hawkers across Abuja, with majority of them plying their trade in front of petrol stations and major roads across the Federal Capital Territory.
Effort to get the views of officials of the Department of Petroleum Resources proved abortive.
Long queues at NNPC outlets
In Lagos, most of the filling stations remained locked while the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) outlets, which are the only ones dispensing the product, have long queues.
Vanguard investigation showed that petrol stations along FESTAC, Apapa, Badagry, Surelere, Itire, Amukoko areas of the state sold fuel at N100, as against the official price of N87.
For instance, Mobil and Total, Kirikiri road were selling at N100 per litre with long queues stretching across express roads leading to disruption in the flow of traffic.
Speaking on the development, a motorist, Mohammed Yusuf, told Vanguard that the scarcity has subjected transporters to untold hardship as it has over the weekend become very difficult getting fuel to carry out their businesses.
A motorist, Yusuf Samaila, said he was at a filling station along the ever busy Apapa-Oshodi expressway for more than two hours and was not able to buy fuel.
He said: “I do not know why we suffer for basically everything in this country. There is no frequent power supply and now that we have a generator to use, getting fuel is also a problem. I have been on the queue for more than two hours.”
Also, a commercial bus driver, Olu Akinyo, stated that it was unfortunate that Nigerians were experiencing fuel shortage, noting that the scarcity had encouraged sharp practices by petrol attendants, who now make brisk business.
N100 per litre at some filling stations
Akinyo, while lamenting that a litre of petrol now attracts over N100 at some filling stations against the official price of N97, said: “I have been on this queue for about an hour before I was able to buy petrol. This is very bad.”
Another motorist, Wale Shogunle, said he was not happy with the fuel scarcity as it had disrupted his business, stating: “As a businessman, I operate a viewing centre, where you can watch football and play games but now, the business is affected because of scarcity of fuel.”
Some commuters complained that they now pay more with a trip from Ikotun to CMS on Lagos Island, which used to cost N300 now attracting between N350 and N400, while some petrol attendants disclosed that they were selling at the price they got the new stock, which according to them, was now higher.
In Owerri, Imo State capital, many of the fuel stations did not open while the few that attended to motorists sold petrol at between N150 and N170.
Vanguard learnt that vehicle owners, especially commercial vehicle drivers, spent several hours at filling stations to buy fuel.
The situation was the same in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital as most of the filling stations have remained shut to customers for about four days.
Vanguard gathered that 10 litres of petrol have been going for N3,000 in Port Harcourt at the black market since last week.
TUC blames private depot owners
Trade Union Congress, TUC, has however blamed private depot owners for the ugly situation. TUC Chairman in the state, Mr Chika Onuegbu, accused most of them of selling products only at night at exorbitant prices.
Onuegbu said it was worrisome that this could go on particularly after the Federal Government had approved payment of N413 billion to cover backlog of petroleum subsidy.
Describing the action of depot owners as shameful, Onuegbu called on Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, the state government and other relevant agencies to wade into the matter.
“Trade Union Congress, Rivers State is worried by the determination of the private depot owners to starve Rivers people of petroleum products. Currently, they have shut their depots and only selling at night at exorbitant prices.”
“We call on the DPR, law enforcement agencies and the Rivers State government to force the depots open and ensure that the available products are released to petroleum marketers including IPMAN since President Buhari has approved about N413 billion subsidy payment backlog.”
We have enough stock to last 17 days —NNPC
However, the NNPC had stated that it has enough stock of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, also known as petrol, to serve the needs of Nigerians across the country for about 17 days and urged Nigerians to desist from panic buying of the product.
According to the NNPC, the country currently has 656.376 million litres of PMS in its various storage platform, while it is expecting additional 756.99 million litres of the product before the end of November.
Giving a breakdown of the figures, the NNPC explained that 66.81 million litres of PMS are in PPMC depots; 117.48 million litres are in PPMC throughputs depots; 427.971 million litres of PMS of marine stock and 44.112 million litres are in the depots of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN.
In addition, it stated that 380.99 million litres of PMS are expected to be brought in by the PPMC through import, between now and the end of the November, while other marketers are expecting 376 million litres of the products.
The NNPC maintained that the current stock available in its depots and reserves are enough to serve the country for 17 days, while the products that are being awaited in the next couple of days would serve the country for 35 days minimum.