BY OUR REPORTERS
•Insists petrol constantly supplied to DAPPMA, MOMAN, IPMAN
•Address fuel scarcity before things get out of hand, Labour tells FG
•DAPPMA, IPMAN, MOMAN react; queues persist nationwide
ABUJA—The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, yesterday, accused oil marketers, under the aegis of Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association, DAPPMA, of distorting the facts in their claims that its members’ tanks are empty because they were not being supplied Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, also known as petrol.
NNPC, in a statement in Abuja, by its Group General Manager, Public Affairs Division, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, described DAPPMA’S claims as unfortunate, stating that it had continued to supply the marketers huge quantities of the product despite the group’s N26.7 billion debt to its subsidiary, the Petroleum Products Marketing Company, PPMC, as at December 21, 2017.
Ughamadu also accused DAPPMA of refusing to resume fuel imports, despite concession granted the group by the Federal Government to obtain foreign exchange at the official rate of N305 to a dollar.
He said: “NNPC wishes to affirm that it has supplied appreciable volume to DAPPMA, Major Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN, and Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, to rid the challenges currently being experienced in the supply and distribution of petroleum products in the country.
“NNPC regrets that DAPPMA, which members had taken receipts of products from PPMC, a subsidiary of NNPC and owe the company to the tune of N26.7bn as at December 21, 2017, has the audacity to indict NNPC unjustifiably.
“The statement by DAPPMA that the current hiccups in the supply of products was due to the inability of the Direct Sale Direct Purchase, DSDP partners of NNPC to deliver on their business obligations is unfounded and self-indicting as many DAPPMA members patronize the same DSDP international counterparts as the corporation.
“Despite the concession by the government giving access to DAPPMA to obtain FOREX at an official rate of N305 per dollar for PMS import, their members have not been able to do so, leaving NNPC as the sole supplier of PMS to the Nigerian market.”
Ughamadu assured the public that despite the increase it effected in the supply of PMS in December 2017, it has nonetheless, programmed to supply 1.2 billion litres of the product in January 2018, translating to about 40 million litres of PMS supply per day.
He explained that ordinarily, Nigeria consumes about 700 trucks, an equivalent of 27 million to 30 million litres per day.
“Despite the current challenges, Nigerians are reassured that there is no plan to increase PMS pump price above N145 per litre and that NNPC will continue to maintain ex–depot price of N133.28 per litre which guarantees the pump price not exceeding the N145 per litre capped by the government.
“All stakeholders are implored to support the efforts of government to bring a speedy end to the current fuel distribution challenges being experienced in parts of the country as this is not the time to play the blame game,” the NNPC spokesman noted.
DAPPMA, IPMAN, MOMAN
Meanwhile, Executive Secretary of DAPPMA, Mr. Olufemi Oluwole, when contacted for response on NNPC claim, disclosed in a telephone interview with Vanguard that the association will respond at an appropriate time.
He said DAPPMA was mainly interested in getting adequate supplies for its members to sell in order to assist in tackling the shortage.
Also, Operations Controller of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, Mr. Mike Osatuyi said that IPMAN has been getting supplies from the NNPC.
He said: “For instance, IPMAN members lifted 15 trucks of fuel from Ejigbo, yesterday, for distribution,” adding that the shortage will be tackled if supplies from NNPC were sustained.
“We lifted 15 trucks from NNPC today (yesterday) at Ejigbo depot. If the supplies are sustained, the situation would certainly improve. ’Our members will cooperate with NNPC and other stakeholders to tackle the scarcity as soon as possible.”
Executive Secretary of Major Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN, Mr. Femi Olawore could not be reached for comments, yesterday.
But a source in the association said the major marketers, including MRS, Conoil, Total and Oando, have been getting regular supplies from NNPC.
Address fuel scarcity, Labour tells FG
Organised labour has also called on the Federal Government to immediately address all identified challenges that brought about the current acute scarcity of petroleum products across the country.
Speaking through the United Labour Congress of Nigeria, ULC, labour said: “We believe that Nigerian workers and masses deserve a better treatment than these excuses before things get out of hand.”
It urged all government agencies involved in making products available in the country to move very fast and bridge the supply gap either by importing more directly, or making foreign exchange available to importers to bring in more products.
ULC in a statement by its President, Joe Ajaero, while contending that the more sensible approach to ensuring a permanent end to scarcity was to ensure that local refineries are made to work optimally, said: “We hope once again that this is not a prelude to the 2012 gimmick as giving Nigerians sorrow and bitterness during this period has become the sole aim of our various governments.
“Our investigations and reports reaching us from our affiliates in the industry shows that the present situation is clearly a manifestation of another failure of leadership in Nigeria. It cannot be blamed on any panic buying or hoarding as the product is seriously in short supply. Importers are not bringing in enough products while NNPC is not in any position to meet the demands of the market.”
Long queues, hardship remain
Meanwhile, the worsening fuel crisis continued across the country, yesterday, as long queues were seen across the few petrol stations selling the commodity, some at the recommended price in Lagos and Abuja, while in other states, the product sold far above the recommended pricce.
In Abuja, of the three petrol stations at Dutse on the Abuja-Kaduna Expressway, only Gegu was selling, while at the NNPC mega stations on either side of the Abuja-Kaduna Expressway, at Mpape, it was a chaotic situation, as in addition to the long queues, some unruly motorists formed other queues at the exit gate of the stations, thereby hindering the free flow of traffic on the road.
On the same stretch of road, Oando, Total and Shema Petroleum, all at Mpape, were not selling, while long queues were seen at A.A. Rano and MRS filling stations.
At the NNPC filling station after Games Village in Abuja, large queues were witnessed, while same scenario was prevalent at the Conoil and Total filling stations opposite the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, headquarters.
Almost all the petrol stations visited were selling the commodity at the official price of N145 per litre, while in some of the stations, motorists complained that the pumps have been adjusted and are under-dispensing.
However, Dated filling station and Onome petrol station, at Aso Road, near Aso Secondary School, Karshi, Abuja, were selling the commodity at N250 to motorists, who still besieged the stations to get the product.
One of the motorists on queue, Mr. Michael Adelowo, appealed to the authorities to call owners of the stations to order, lamenting that one of the stations had been selling the product at that amount since the crisis began.
Our correspondents, who moved round some parts of Delta State, yesterday, reported that travellers returning home to their stations to resume official duties after the Christmas break were stranded at motor parks due to the high cost of transportation occasioned by the fuel scarcity.
At Asaba, some petrol stations still sold the product at exorbitant prices ranging from N220 to N250.
A tricycle rider, Mr Ifechukwu, lamented that the situation has reduced patronage, urging the Federal Government to “do everything to ensure that the whole situation is arrested. The Christmas celebration has come to an end and I expect that the price would have come down by now.”
At Ozoro, headquarters of Isoko South Local Government Area of the state, only two petrol station were seen selling the product at the price of N260 per litre, even as black marketers sold for N400 in the area.
A traveller, Doris Akatathi said she spent the sum of N21, 000 travelling from Lagos State to Delta with her three children for the Christmas celebration, lamenting that they were now stranded as they were finding it difficult to return to their station due to further increase in the cost of transportation.
A transporter, Mr. Andrew Efedue, who plies Ozoro/Ughelli road said some of the petrol station operators usually locked up their stations to attract desperate customers who would prefer to buy at high prices, saying “something urgent must be done to spare Nigerians this agony. We must not continue like this.”
At Oleh, Isoko South Local Government Area of the state, all the petrol stations in the town were under lock and key at about 11.30 a.m., yesterday.
“Even in the black markets where we bought petrol at N400, yesterday (Tuesday), the product is no longer available. I had to move to Akiowhe before I could buy fuel at N240 per litter,” a motorists in the area, told Vanguard.
At Kwale, headquarters of Ndokwa West LGA of the state, the situation was not different as only one filling station was selling in the area at the price of N250 per litter.
Those who could not cope with the lengthy queue in the petrol station were forced to buy the product in black markets at the price of N350 per litre.
Most petrol stations were still locked yesterday in Warri and environs with the few opened for business dispensing petrol at N250 to customers.
Motorists groaned as they grudgingly bought fuel. Queues were not noticed at the filling stations selling on Warri – Sapele road because of the high price.
Black marketers sold a litre of petrol for between N300 and N350. One of them at the Refinery road end of Warri -Sapele road who gave her name as Roseline, said she still had patronage since most filling stations in the heart of the city were locked.
“Mainly, you find filling stations selling petrol on the highway. So motorists, who just want a little, do not see the need to drive to either Warri-Benin road or Warri–Abraka road in search of filling stations. They just come to us (black marketers) for small quantity they need to drive round town and for their generators,” Roseline said.
Petrol is still being sold at N250 per litre in most filling stations opened for business in various parts of Enugu State.
Even though some fuel stations sell at N220 and N230 per litre, the cost remained at N250 per litre since December 23.
The situation led some residents to park their cars, while families that have more than one car use only one.
Bus fare from Abakpa to old park within Enugu Metropolis, has remained N100 instead of the previous N50, while Enugu to Nsukka that used to cost N500 now goes for N1,500.
Mr. Chris Asogwa, said: “I’ve parked my car because I can no longer cope. The problem is not that the price of petrol is too high but for me to go and stand in long queue to buy fuel at N250 per litre is unacceptable to me. So I’ve parked my car and now trek.”
It was learned that the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, has been going around the metropolis to enforce regulated price of N145 per litre but with little success.
DPR Manager in-charge of Enugu zone, Alhaji Gwaram Ahmed could not respond to inquiries made via phone calls and text messages.
Most stations in Port Harcourt, River State, have shut down because of lack of products to dispense, while it has been gathered that some of the filling stations were hoarding the product, believing that the worst was yet to come.
Yesterday, fillings stations that had the products sold at N230 and N250 per litre, while black market operators sold at N300 and N320. The filling stations now prefer selling the product to hawkers at N270 with the extra commission of N200 for 50-litre can, N100 for 20 litres, and N50 for 10 litres and below.
A driver, who simply identified himself as Uchendu in queue in one of the filling stations, told Vanguard that the situation in the state appeared to be the worst in the nation.
He said: “I have gone to over seven filling stations, none is selling. The filling station is selling at N230 and we are buying it. They prefer selling to the black market women because they make extra money.”
In Benin City, Edo State, although the pump price of the product has risen to between N240 and N260 per litre, only few stations opened for business.
The black marketers have reduced their prices from N3,500 for a 10-litre can to N3,000 following the increased number of stations now opening for business.
While transport fares within the city have been slightly adjusted, that of inter-state and outside the state remained high.
Transport fare to Auchi, which was N800, has been increased to between N1,700 and N2000, while from Benin to Benue State has risen from N4,000 to N8,000.
Transport fare from Benin to Lagos is now between N8,000 to N9,000 from the old fare of between N3,500 and N4,500 depending on the motor park.
However, chairman of IPMAN Midwest zone, Chief Solomon Ogbewe, said efforts being made by the Federal Government and the PPMC will yield fruits by weekend.
The scarcity of PMS has taken a dangerous dimension in Calabar, Cross River State capital as most filling stations have closed shop due to non-availability of the product.
When Vanguard visited major filling stations, yesterday, it observed that many had their gates locked because there was no fuel, while the ones that had the product were selling between N190 to N230 per litre.
Vanguard also observed that black marketers sold a litre of fuel N350 and N400.
Some of the motorists who spoke with Vanguard, said they had been at the filling station for over three hours without buying as some of the stations got instructions to close because they won’t be able to lift products from the depot till Thursday.
A commercial bus driver, David Ekpeyong told Vanguard that he came out since 6:am but the product finished when he got to the pump. A commuter, Dr John Ita said he paid N100 instead of the normal N50 naira taxi drivers usually collected.
Vanguard further observed that people roamed various filling stations in the state looking for the product.
The lingering petrol scarcity has persisted and is biting harder in Abia State with most petrol stations not selling the product.
The few that dispensed in Aba and Umuahia were selling well above the official price.
In Aba, a litre of petrol is sold at between N250 and N270 while in Umuahia, the state capital, a litre sold for between N240 and N250. In the hinterland, it is sold for as much between N300 and N400.
However, at the NNPC Mega Station on the Enugu-Port Harcourt Highway, the product sold at the regulated price of N145 but the situation there was chaotic.
Queues of vehicles stretched over four kilometres but the managers and pump attendants were allegedly being induced by friends and others, who were willing to part with N500 and N1000 to allow them enter from the exit point to buy fuel.
Worried by this, a group, Abia State Coalition of Groups and Associations of Nigeria, ABSCONGAN, has threatened to drag the Independent Petrol Marketers in the state who sell petrol above the official pump price of N145 to court.
Also, another group, Concerned Advocates Against Corruption, has called for the immediate arrest and prosecution of fuel dealers who still sell petrol above official pump price.
The scarcity of petrol in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital is alarming as most fuel stations visited by Vanguard had vehicles queue up to buy the product at exorbitant prices. The product, at press time, was being sold between N260 and N300 per litre but the product was hardly availabile.
Most motorists spent the night in the area to ensure they purchase the product.
“There is no place to get fuel now. If you must get fuel, you have to come out early to any filling station with available product so that you can buy. The price is between N260 and N300, a civil servant told Vanguard.
Most filling stations in Anambra State suddenly resumed sale of petroleum products, yesterday, following information filtering into the state that large quantity of petrol had arrived Nigerian ports for distribution throughout the country to ease the scarcity.
Since the scarcity of petrol became noticeable in various parts of the country, most fuel stations in Anambra stopped selling, while the few that open their stations for business have been selling between N250 and N300 per litre.
In fact, apart from the NNPC mega stations, where motorist have been queuing overnight without hope of seeing fuel to buy, other major marketers have also not been selling. Rather, private filing stations have been having a field day, dispensing at whatever prize they liked.
In one of the stations in the heart of Awka, an attendant, who called herself Chiamaka said their manager ordered them to resume work, yesterday, and to start selling because of the fear that prizes would come down by the end of this week.
Following the development, queues had disappeared in most stations, except at the NNPC stations that still sell at N143 per litre.
It has been a traumatic yuletide celebration for Bayelsans due to the biting fuel scarcity in the predominantly riverine state where a litre of fuel was being sold between N250 and N300 per litre in Yenagoa, the state capital.
The same product goes for N400 in the hinterland especially in the riverine enclave where the means of transportation is by boat which consumption of fuel is about four times that of vehicles, thereby, causing 100 per cent hike in transport fares.
The poor power supply in the last one month has also compounded the woes of residents and the increase in the demand for the scarce product in the state.
Accordingly, many motorists in the state capital have converted the NNPC mega station on Sani Abacha expressway which sells at the official N143 per litre pump price to their second home in search of the commodity since the scarcity reared its head in the state early December.
Also, road side fuel hawkers have been making brisk business as some motorists who could not stand the rigour of the long queues at the fuel stations have been patronising them in spite of their selling at N300 per litre.
Business activities within and around Kano metropolis have been brought to its knees following current scarcity of petrol in most filling stations, yesterday.
Findings by Vanguard in the commercial city indicated that the product was on sale at the only NNPC designated centre with queue stretched to 2.5km from the source.
Most of the commuters who spoke with Vanguard at the NNPC mega station complained bitterly of alleged “sharp practices” by officials who they accused of extortion at the point of service.
An official of NNPC mega station identified as Iliya refused to clarify position over the allegation.
Despite non-availability of petrol in gas stations, it was a different scenario on most streets in the city as hawkers recorded boom in their illegal business.
A hawker of petrol at Farm centre general area, who identified himself as Abu Danbumburutu was full of praises for President Buhari for the hiccups in the official supply chain of the product.
According to him “In recent years, we have never had it so good, the supply is smooth and a litre of petrol now cost N240.00 as at today. “
It’s been tales of woes, misery and agony for motorists and commuters alike across Benue State following several weeks of scarcity of fuel in the state.
The scarcity of the product which started two weeks to the Yuletide has persisted and the people have been left to bear the brunt.
Vanguard investigations revealed that though most of the filling stations in Makurdi town have not been selling the product to stranded motorists, some have the products but were adamant to sell, citing a sudden increase in the cost of purchasing the product from depots.
As at yesterday, the only filling station where motorist could assess the product in Makurdi town was the NNPC Mega Station on the ever busy Makurdi-Otukpo Road, where hundreds of car owners queue endlessly to buy the product at the rate N143 per litre.
The situation has created an opening for black marketers, who were busy making brisk business, selling a litre of the product for as high as N350.
Meantime, a filling station operator who craved anonymity told Vanguard that most filling stations in the town have products but prefer to dispense to black marketers late at night to enable them recover their investment.
In Kastina, it was difficult accessing fuel, as long queues pervaded the few stations that had the product, while black marketers had a field day.
Our correspondent, who monitored the development in Katsina noticed that a litre of petrol sold for between N215 and N230 at fuel stations.
The black marketers sell between N300 and N350 per litre. Most motorists Vanguard spoke to, lamented the hardship caused by the scarcity.
According to Ustaz Idris, a car owner: “The fuel scarcity is getting worst on a daily basis. The price keeps on increasing every day. I bought in Kankia about two days ago for N220 per litre but am sure it has increased now.
“Here in Katsina, even to see the product is a big problem,” Idris said.
THE scarcity of petrol continued to bite hard across Ondo State even after the Christmas celebration.
Findings by Vanguard showed that it was only independent marketers that were dispensing the product at N250 per litre.
No major marketer had sold the product since the scarcity became noticeable about 10 days ago in the state. Findings showed that many of them were hoarding the product and sold late at night for N200 per litre.
Transport fares in the state had been jerked up by 150 per cent by commercial drivers. Speaking with Vanguard, a petrol attendant with one of the independent marketers said the landing cost of the last fuel they bought was N200 hence they decided to sell for N250.