By Michael Eboh
Despite assurances by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, of a return to normalcy in fuel supply, the fuel crisis worsened, yesterday, in Abuja, while transportation costs also rose astronomically.
The queues which returned immediately after the Yuletide holidays attained a worrisome dimension, Thursday, as motorists spent about five hours on queues before they could get the commodity to buy.
In most cases, after queuing for several hours, the motorists would be told by the petrol stations that they had ran out of the commodity, forcing the motorists on queue to locate another petrol station to begin yet another round of waiting.
Some motorists had to abandon their vehicles at petrol stations overnight so as to remain close to the entrance of the station when it reopened to resume selling.
However, the number of petrol stations selling the commodity had increased, as with the exception of A.A. Rano, MRS, Rahamaniyya, Conoil and Shema Petrol stations along the Abuja-Kaduna Expressway, all other petrol stations on the stretch of road were selling.
Meanwhile, to curb sharp practices in fuel supply, the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, arrested some illegal fuel marketers in Abuja and also dispensed 14,400 litres of fuel free to motorists.
The DPR operations task force team led by its Abuja zonal controller, Mr. Abba Misau, dispensed the free fuel at Zauda on Gwagwa Deidei Road in Abuja.
He blamed the resurgence of fuel queues in the Federal Capital Territory on instability of product supply to Abuja and its environs, while he noted that the agency had been given assurance by the PPMC that product supply would stabilize in the next couple of days.
Speaking after the monitoring exercise, Misau said that the fuel station which had no name was operating illegally at the area.
He said, “We came here based on intelligent gathering information that there exists illegal station that sells above the pump price. That is why we came to confirm and on reaching here we discovered that the owner was selling at N210 per litre.
“We looked around, we asked of their license but they do not have and they are selling the product to people. When I looked around I saw that it is situated in an unapproved site. It is in the midst of a community and a fuel station is not supposed to be sited there.
“They have one case of illegal station and another is selling above pump price since we do not know of their existence we have to start dispensing free. ‘We don’t have their records. We discovered that the storage tank has 14,400 litres and we decided to dispense to motorists and cyclists free.
“However no sooner than we started dispensing that one of the staff went and disconnected the light while the machine is on. We will ensure that security is beefed up and condone off the station until the exercise is completed.”
Misau stated that since the petrol station is illegal, it would be handed over to the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, for prosecution, while adding that it would find out from the relevant authorities if the station was given any approval, if not, it would be demolished.
“Even if it has approval we will advise that it is revoked for safety sake,” he, however, noted.
One of the motorists at the station, said the owner had been selling above pump price since December, while he commended the DPR for the exercise, which he said would serve as deterrent to others.
In his response, the owner of the fuel station, Danladi Eya said he bought fuel from one of the licenced marketers, which he said covered his operations.
He pleaded with the DPR for mercy, stressing that he took facility from the bank to embark on the business when he could not get job as a graduate.
”I am a Nigerian I need to survive I am a degree holder and cannot steal so I venture in to the business,” he said.