Some oil unions on Saturday blamed the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPPMA) for the persistent petrol queues being experienced across the country.
Speaking to newsmen at the tarmac of the Pipelines and Product Marketing Company (PPMC), in Suleja depot, the Chairman of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Alhaji Salihu Butu, said his members were paying higher for petroleum products.
According to Butu, IPMAN has 80 per cent of retail outlets (fuel stations) but gets 10 per cent products alongside buying above the ex-depot price to keep their stations open and in business.
A source told newsmen that DAPPMA gets the product at N117 from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the sole importer, and sells to marketers at N152 instead of the ex-depot price of N133.80.
According to Butu, the private depot owners do not sell to us at the official price. We buy at the unofficial price. How do we break even?
“Our stations sell at N180-N190 because when you get to the depots you are presented with two accounts for payment: one for the actual price and the other for the extra, otherwise you cannot lift’’.
Proffering solutions to the problem, Butu said only President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly could intervene in the fuel situation.
“Only President Muhammadu Buhari can solve this. He should come in, people trust him. When he increased price, people accepted, no questions asked. We knew it was for the better.
“The National Assembly also should invite all aggrieved members to get to the bottom of this.
“There should be equity in distribution. NNPC depots should be stocked back to back. Only Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) is loading.
“Mr Umar Ajiya of PPMC held meetings with us. We decided to cooperate and so I went to Aba, Warri, Mosimi and found that our members are given two-three trucks to share.
“To keep their stations open and stay in business, our members have to buy. All these should be looked into,’’ he said.
Mr Yakubu Ibrahim, the Secretary of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers branch of NUPENG in Suleja, told newsmen that if the government should provide infrastructure, security checks that caused gridlock along the way, the queues would have disappeared.
“Jebba to Mokwa is less than 100km (about 45 minutes drive) yet our members spend five hours there. Another gridlock is on the Agaie-Lapai-Lambata route.
“Another issue they can look into is the security checks. They cause gridlock of 10-15 and sometimes 20km. Our members spend two days on those spots.
“Like now we are waiting for them here and they are there. The check points are too many.
“The security agents keep stopping the drivers to dip, check specimen, or collect bribes even without having the right apparatus to check. All these cause unnecessary gridlocks,’’ Ibrahim said.
The Secretary of the Suleja branch of MOMAN, Mr Femi Akano told newsmen that “acts of sabotage on our part is untrue.
“Our members have complained of gridlocks, infrastructure and security checks as reasons for delays and we have cooperated with the government, so acts of sabotage on our part are untrue’’.
Mr Abdullahi Aminu, Assistant Commandant-General Operations of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), told NAN that the NNPC and the NSCDC have been collaborating to halt diversion of products.
“Dr Baru and the Commandant-General of the NSCDC, Mr Abdullahi Muhammadu, collaborated to bring down the menace of diversion.
“Part of our mandate is to monitor national assets and distribution of petroleum products and so every truck distributing petrol has a personnel attached to it to ensure the tankers get to the intended destination.’’
He urged all station managers to check boots for jerry-cans, extra-fitted tanks for profiteers, who queued repeatedly, thereby hindering other motorists, saying they should be handed over to security agents.
“There has been no complaint of collusion to divert products from our personnel because they know it will lead to instant dismissal.
“We have arrested many miscreants who deal illegally and their cases are undergoing prosecution. They construct man-made tanks of 1,500 litres instead of the 50-60 litres.
“If 10 of these cars queue up, they can finish half a tanker that should have served more motorists, hence we carry out a stop-and-search car boots,’’ he said.
The fuel queues, which began on Dec. 7, cleared on Jan 2 at the FCT but re-surfaced on Jan.5 and are yet to clear.
Newsmen recall that during a six-day monitoring by the Joint Task Force in 2017, more than 78,000 litres of petrol was dispensed free of charge to motorists in Abuja from various stations that sold more than approved pump price of N145 per litre.