By Ediri Ejoh
Marketers of Liquefied Natural Gas, LPG, otherwise known as cooking gas, have challenged the current imposition of 75 per cent price hike on the product by federal government.
This development may lead to possible scarcity of the product across the country, as the marketers have threatened to down tool.
The marketers are concerned over what they described as an indiscriminate artificial hike in the price of the product by 75 per cent in the last two weeks.
The Executive Secretary of Nigerian Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers, NALPGAM, Mr Bassey Essien, expressed this concern in a press briefing in Lagos. He said that in the last couple of days the price of a 20 metric tonnes of LPG, which hitherto sold for N3.15 million, suddenly N4.2 million.
He stated that a few hours, thereafter, the price moved to N4.2 million even though the same product has been in the storages of these terminals when the price was even N3.5 million.
He noted that the price hike will ultimately dovetail into high prices to the consumers, adding that the consumers will, in turn, blame marketers, who, unfortunately, are also caught up in the web of price hikes.
According to him, the price increase is not the handiwork of marketers, but, rather that of the terminal owners, importers and the NLNG.
His word: “At this time of the year in the past, price hikes used to be attributable to the winter season, increased demand for heating energy and international price index. This, we have consistently questioned why a product in abundance in our country should become such a victim of any slightest issue occurring internationally.”
“Marketers are equally bemoaning the situation as the development has adversely affected business planning. If the trend is not halted immediately, the price of a 12.5kg cylinder of cooking gas may soon sell for over N6, 000.00 and well out of the purchasing power of the average consumer.
“This brings to questioning when the issue of product availability will ever be holistically addressed. We cannot deepen the use of LPG if the availability of the product is not guaranteed, ‘’ he added.
Stressing the need to urgently reverse the price hike, Essien called on the NLNG to flood the market with cooking gas and increase the frequency with which the vessels deliver LPG from Bonny to the terminals particularly in the Lagos axis.
He said NLNG should supply LPG to other coastal terminals outside Lagos to reduce the inherent pressure on the terminals in the South West and also deploy vessels of smaller capacities to access the coastal terminals if product availability must be achieved.