*FG says 45m litres of products successfully blended
*We’ll not lift PMS for depot owners selling above N148.77 – NUPENG
*Begins enforcement of official rate, sets up taskforce
By Victor Ahiuma-Young, Olasunkanmi Akoni, Sebastine Obasi, Ediri Ejoh, Prince Okafor and Obas Esiedesa
THE ongoing shortage of Petroleum Motor Spirit, PMS, worsened in Lagos, Abuja, Ibadan, Enugu and other major cities across the country, yesterday, with motorists spending hours on queues at filling stations, while black market operators have taken over major spots.
Transport fares have also hit the roof top, as the scarcity persists.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government assured, yesterday, that it was containing the 90 million litres bad PMS imported into the country as the steering committee it set up confirmed that over 50 percent or 45 million litres of the product had been successfully blended.
This came as Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, said members would not lift products for depot owners selling PMS, above official depot price of N148.77.
Checks by Vanguard showed that in Abuja city centre, only two major marketers were opened to motorists with queues stretching over two kilometers.
Most independent marketers in Abuja were still without the product.
It was also gathered that while major marketers were dispensing at N162.5 per litre, independent marketers at suburbs sold at N165.8 per litre. At the black market, prices ranged from N340 to N400 per litre.
The negative effect of fuel scarcity also continued in Lagos State as few filling stations were dispensing petroleum products to motorists, while others shut their gates, forcing transport fares to skyrocket on most routes.
Most of the areas visited around Alimosho, Isolo, Ikeja and Yaba Local Government Areas of the state witnessed long queues of vehicles at the both filling stations dispensing fuel and those not dispensing.
Some motorists, who spoke to Vanguard, lamented the situation, which they recalled had lasted for over three weeks without government finding a lasting solution to the lingering crisis.
Mr. Ifeanyi Uchai, a motorist, narrated: “I have been on the queue for almost three hours on the same spot at a filling station on Egbeda –Ikotun Road. Though, this is one of the few stations selling at the normal rate of N165 per litre while others are selling at the rate of N200 and above.
“Government has left us to our fate and in the hands of these marketers, who have seized the opportunity to enrich themselves at the expense of the masses without any form of monitoring of their activities by government” .
Transport fares have thus skyrocketed by 100 percent, leaving commuters groaning in Enugu metropolis, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
Fares for short distances of about four or five stops away on commercial buses and tricycles have risen from N50 to N100. A distance covered with N100 before now, is currently charging N200. The development has left commuters, including civil servants, pupils and students trekking long distances to and from their destinations.
Reacting, a bus driver plying the Garki-Polo Park route, Mr. Andy Onyia, blamed the current increase in fares on the fuel pump price hike within Enugu metropolis.
Onyia said that in a situation where drivers have to buy fuel for between N200 and N210 per litre, “You don’t expect commercial bus drivers to still charge the old prices.
“If the price of fuel comes down today, I am sure, commercial bus drivers will revert to their previous charges. It does not give most drivers joy to see people suffer or being placed in hard condition of trekking long distances,” he said.
Mr. Okechukwu Madu, a commercial tricycle rider in the town, said that apart from the current fuel pump price hike, the issue of bad roads remains a major factor.
Madu, who shuttles between Ogbete Main Market and Mayor Bus Stop, said: “Most roads within Enugu metropolis are dilapidated and our tricycle gets frequent wear-and-tear leading to mechanic workshop visit every week.”
Ibadan residents, others groan in pains, as fuel scarcity bites harder
In Ibadan, it was observed that the price of a litre of petroleum was between N200 and N300 in many of the independent marketers’ petrol stations
Some of the petrol stations visited were those in Monatan, Iyana Church, Iwo Road, Sango, Akobo and Total Garden. Others are in Bodija, Dugbe, Eleyele, Ologuneru, Sanyo, Soka and Secretariat Road. While some sell at N200, some sell at N220, N230, N250 while others sell at N300.
Many residents who spoke on the fuel situation decried the unnecessary hardship they were subjected to in getting petrol as the scarcity was biting harder in major parts of Ibadan, and neighbouring towns, forcing many people to spend hours at the filling stations.
Recounting his ordeals, Mr. Akinola Akinkunmi, an artisan, said, having gone round many filling stations in Ibadan, with no luck, he was forced to buy petrol at N200 per litre at a filling station.
“The suffering is too much. I have gone round the town looking for fuel to buy, but I didn’t get it, as many stations I visited were not open for business. The few ones selling at the official rate have long queues and they don’t sell in jerry cans.
“I was only able to buy at a place for N200 per litre. Some are even selling as high as N300 per litre,” Akinkunmi said.
Also, Mrs. Omolara Aina, a mother of two, said it was becoming difficult for her to take her children to school daily because of the scarcity.
“My husband spent the greater part of Monday on queue for petrol. We hope respite is on the way, because we cannot continue like this.
“Foods stored in the refrigerators had spoiled, yet things are very expensive now because transportation has increased as a result of the fuel scarcity.
“The hardship caused by COVID-19 pandemic is still lingering, now, it is getting to the climax with the fuel scarcity, I tell you,” Aina said.
Also, Mr. Ade Ojo, a commercial driver, said he spent about seven hours on a queue to buy fuel, but managed to get the product at the official rate in the end.
“Do you think with all the hassles I went through, I will not double or even triple the transport fare? Life is difficult for residents now with the fuel scarcity. The heat is too much, you need to power your generator because electricity is not available, even at that, where is the petrol to power the generator?
“Let the government walk its talk and make the product available as they had promised,” Ojo said.
Reacting, Mr. Ademola Kayode, a commercial motorcyclist plying Adeoyo – Challenge Route, said he got fuel at N250 per litre on Monday night.
Kayode said that he has no option than to increase his fare to recover his money.
Meanwhile, Mr. Tayo Aluko, an official of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authorities, NMDPRA, said the agency had been going round to ensure that the product was sold at the official rate.
“Ibadan Depot has no supply of PMS. The product available in Ibadan is from Lagos and that is why some filling stations are selling above the official rate.
“We are now going round monitoring and sanctioning those who were found wanting in complying with the laid down regulations,” Aluko said.
Motorists, resident lament over price hike in Osun
Motorists and residents across major towns in Osun State, have been bemoaning the hike in prices of transportation due to increased fuel price in most filling stations.
Vanguard gathered that long queues persist in most filing stations in major towns, while BOVAS still sells at the official pump price, N162, others sell at different prices ranging from N200-N300.
Consequently, transportation fares have doubled forcing residents to trek for short distances.
A resident, Ismail Lukman said transport fare from Osogbo to Ikirun that was N200 now N400.
“Also, cost of transport from Osogbo to Ibadan, which was N600 now cost between N1200 and N1500,” he said.
Another resident, Abosede Adeola lamented the rising prices in transport, goods and services due to the issue of bad fuel, calling on the appropriate authorities to rise to the occasion before it gets out of hand.
Speaking to Vanguard in a telephone chat over the development, the Public Relations Officer of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, Chinedu Ukadike, said nothing has changed in terms of product availability.
“We are still expecting supply from the NNPC. They assured us that we will be supplied this week. So, we are still expecting. Some independent marketers with the product are those who got from private depot owners, which is more expensive,” he said.
45m litres of products successfully blended— FG
In a chat with Vanguard on the development, Chairman of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN, Olumide Adeosun, disclosed that the team has successfully completed the blending of 50 percent of the imported products.
He also stated that the technical committee has been working hard to ensure that the contaminated product was completely blended in no distant time.
He said: “The blending process of the off specification petrol is in progress and we are really committed to ensure we complete the process as soon as possible .
“Taking figures from Ardova Plc, we started with 8.2 million litres of the off-specification petrol, and we have successfully reduced that volume to three million litres. The cargo that berthed at our jetty over the weekend, came with sufficient product, enough to blend the remaining unblended product available in our tank.
“Across the industry, what we are experiencing is a hybrid of things. The products that are coming are being pushed inland. There is another development currently playing out in the industry, which is the price of diesel.”
According to a source at a depot, who chose to remain anonymous, “There is enough product to cushion the effect of scarcity as product is being evacuated at the depot. We are hopeful that before the end of this week, product would have gotten round and the present situation will be a thing of the past.”
We’ll not lift PMS for depot owners selling above N148.77 – NUPENG
Meanwhile, NUPENG, said members would not lift products for depot owners, who sell Petroleum Motor Spirit, PMS, above official depot price of N148.77.
Recall that NUPENG had Saturday, February 26, 2022, issued a 24-hour ultimatum with effect from midnight on February 27, 2022, to marketers to revert to the official rate of N148.77 or face unpleasant consequences.
On Monday, the union equally directed members to compile names of marketers hoarding and selling products above the official rate at the depot.
Speaking to Vanguard, NUPENG’s President, Prince Williams Akporeha, said the union had also set up a taskforce for daily monitoring and enforcement of the official depot rate across the country to ease the suffering of Nigerians.
He said; “We started monitoring and enforcement of the official depot rate Monday in all the four zones of our union. That is: Lagos, Warri, Port Harcourt and Kaduna to ensure that these unscrupulous marketers do not continue to unleash hardship on Nigerians. They are not just hoarding the products, but also selling far above the official depot rate.
“These marketers are behind the worsening scarcity and upsurge in the black market, where the black marketers sell at any price to desperate consumers. If we bring sanity to the depot, we would have brought more than 80 percent sanity to distribution across the country. The taskforce we have set up will continue to monitor and enforce the official rate at the depot until the situation nomalises.”
Corroborating the President, the Union’s General Secretary, Mr. Afolabi Olawale, said “One of the lines of action we are going to take is any depot that is not selling at the official rate, our members will not carry their products. Depot owners are not the ones directly importing the products and are taking products from NNPC.
“Nobody has given official statements that PMS is no longer under subsidy regime and in that wise, the general public cannot be buying products at N250, N220, N180, from the depot. We are asking all these depot owners to stop exploiting the general public and sell at official rate.”