February 16, 2022

Bad petrol: Economy bleeds as scarcity worsens

Fuel Scarcity


…Black markets emerge; transport fares rise by 100%lAs FG, marketers declare 1bn litres stock

LAGOS — There were indications, yesterday, that the prolonged shortage of Premium Motor Spirit, also known as petrol, is taking a severe toll on the economy as it has disrupted operations in many sectors, according to Vanguard checks.

The checks indicated that it has already resulted in high transport fares, crippled the movement of goods and persons from one place to another, disrupted activities in industries, increased cost of production and prices of products, which may eventually make locally produced goods non-competitive in the international market.

Specifically, in most cities, especially Abuja and Lagos, the shortage triggered over 100 per cent rise in transport fares, thus worsening the nation’s Ease of Doing Business.

Also, hundreds of roadside petrol black marketers were sighted in various locations within the Federal Capital Territory and Lagos, trading the commodity between N350 and N400 per litre, depending on location.

As a result of the short supply of the product, motorists quickly formed long queues in front of the few filling stations that dispensed the commodity, while many of the stations, which did not have the product remained shut.

Furthermore, commercial transporters took advantage of the situation to hike fares to worsen the woes of the people.

For instance, the fare from Kurudu of Mararaba/Nyanya axis, a border town between Abuja and Nasarawa, to Garki district in the city centre, which used to be between N300 and N350, was raised to N1, 000 yesterday.

In the same vein, taxi drivers in Abuja city centre jerked up their rates by over 50 per cent, charging N800 for trips that they previously accepted between N500 and N600.

Depending on the distance covered, findings indicate that the current scarcity of petrol has led to a double/triple-digit inflation rate in the commercial transport sector of the FCT, which ranges from 50  to 200 per cent.

Commuters groan

A commuter, Vivian Ifezue, who transits from the Ketti community to the Central Business District for work six days a week, told our correspondent, yesterday, that she paid N1, 000.

She lamented that it was not easy to pay that additional N400, and called on the Federal Government to intervene and do something to address the fuel scarcity.

Ifezue said, “From Ketti, we used to pay N600 to CBD, but this morning it has increased to N1,000 due to fuel scarcity.

“Without any extra income source, paying that extra N400 is not easy. And for a late trip to my place of residence, there’s going to be an extra N200 added to N1,000. This is hard to bear.”

Similarly, Mr John Opejobi, who lives along Airport Road but works in Utako district, also told a story of agony. He said despite the fact that he had to pay extra transportation costs, he still scrambled with other commuters to secure a seat at the bus stop.

He said: “How long will we continue to suffer? I am not happy with the increase in transport fares, but I am more pained that I have to spend additional time at the bus stop for a vehicle going my way to come along, and when any appears, I still have to struggle with other people to secure a seat.’’

Inland depots yet to receive clean petrol  —IPMAN

Similarly, the  Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, said yesterday that no inland depot has received clean petrol that could boost supply to filling stations.

IPMAN Public Relations Officer, Chief Chinedu Ukadike, who spoke to Vanguard on the situation in a telephone chat, said the Federal Government was yet to improve supply, warning that it would take another two weeks for supply to normalize. Chief Ukadike said challenges facing the downstream sector are enormous, urging the government to begin the process of compensating marketers who lost a lot of money during the period.

He explained: “Nothing much has changed in the last few days. The issue is that up till now, we have not seen the intervention of the NNPC in evacuating the bad Petrol from some of our stations. Some marketers are trying to see if they can get new products and blend them to see if they can move.

“Marketers’ capitals have been tied down and the bad product is also occupying their storage tank and that is why you are seeing some skeletal services. Some also have their tanks quarantined, so it is not easy. “We have been expecting products in the inland depots like the Port Harcourt Refinery depot but up till now, no product has been received. These things happen. Once there is a break in the supply chain, it will take some time to fix.

‘’Forget what people are saying, it will take two to three weeks to fill the gaps. It is talking about evacuating and replacing, it is not just about the shortage, it is also about evacuating and replacing of Petrol.”

FG, marketers announce 1bn litres stock, begin 24-hour sales

Meanwhile, the Federal Government, yesterday, insisted that its retail outlets and those of major oil marketers have commenced a 24-hours service to ensure that more motorists were attended to daily.

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The government told journalists in Abuja that about 2.3 billion litres of petrol would arrive in the country between now and the end of the month to address the supply gap.

The assurance came on a day the situation in Abuja worsened with hundreds of motorists besieging the few filling stations dispensing.

It stated that a joint monitoring team had been set up to ensure a smooth supply of petrol nationwide.

It stated: “The NNPC Ltd understands the current fuel supply disruptions in many parts of the country, which was caused by the discovery and subsequent quarantine of methanol-blended cargoes of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), commonly referred to as Petrol.

“To address the situation, over 2.3 billion litres will arrive in the country between now and the end of February 2022. This will restore the sufficiency level above the national target of 30 days

“As of today (yesterday), the government has over one billion litres of petrol in stock, and the petrol being dispensed today at the various filling stations in the country is safe. In order to accelerate PMS distribution across the country, the government has commenced 24 hours operations at its Depots and Retail outlets.’’

Also, the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN, Depot Owners and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria, DAPPMAN, and Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, have commenced 24 hours loading and dispensing of Petrol activities in some of their designated outlets.

“The government has constituted a monitoring team, with the support of the Authority, NMDPRA, and security agencies to ensure smooth distribution of PMS nationwide.

“NNPC implores Nigerians to avoid panic buying of Petrol and assures that the ongoing efforts will be sustained to restore normalcy in a few days,” he added.

23 ships arrive Lagos Port – NPA

However, the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, said yesterday that 23 ships arrived at the Lagos Port Complex and were discharging petrol and other items.

In its ‘Daily Shipping Position’, obtained by Vanguard, NPA, stated that items that arrived included, automobile gasoline, bulk wheat, general cargo, container, frozen fish, plaster, trucks and bulk salt.

The authority stated that 14 other ships were expected to arrive at the port between February 15  and22, laden with more fuel, butane gas and others.

Vanguard News Nigeria