LONG queues of vehicles are back at filling stations in major cities of Nigeria. The situation has been blamed on the scarcity of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, otherwise known as petrol, which Nigerians are made to contend with.
The queues which first became noticeable on Saturday, February 27, subsist even at the time of filing this report. As at Sunday evening, the number of filling stations selling fuel had dropped drastically, leaving long queues of customers at the few filling stations that were selling above the regulated price of N86.50 per litre.
Major filling stations in Lagos shut their businesses to customers, claiming to be out of stock, even those operated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, did not fare better.
Similar experiences were reported in Abuja; Port Harcourt, Rivers State; Ibadan, Oyo State and Benue State, among others. According to reports some motorists slept at the filling stations in a desperate bid to buy petrol at the N86.50 per litre.
However, those who could not face the hardship of long queues resorted to buying from hawkers were taking advantage of the scarcity to sell the product to desperate buyers for as much as N600 to N700 per litre as against the official rate of N86.50k.
Though the NNPC has assured that it was doing everything possible to ensure the availability of petrol in every part of the country, it was learnt that the current scarcity could be traced to the corporation’s alleged delay in signing an oil swap agreement.
Some refineries were said to have met with the NNPC officials in Abuja and London over the past month, promising that they could quickly move vessels with petrol to Nigeria. But negotiations appear to be taking longer than expected, leaving a gap in imports.
The NNPC said it opted for “the more efficient Direct Sale-Direct Purchase, DSDP, alternative, which allows for direct sale of crude oil by the corporation as well as direct purchase of petroleum products from credible international refineries.”
The corporation explained that it opted for this position after “evaluation exercise of pre-qualified bidders revealed that most of the 44 companies earlier shortlisted for the next stage of the tender process only had affiliations to refineries abroad, a situation which introduces toll on the value chain.”
The NNPC got approval to import 75 percent of the country’s petrol needs, while the major and independent marketers got the remaining 25 percent import permit.
The corporation, in a statement signed by Ohi Alegbe, group general manger, public affairs division, said that it had deployed additional trucks of petrol to arrest the emerging queues in some fuel stations in the Federal Capital Territory and its environs from the usual average of 160 per day to 250 trucks (8.25 million litres). The increase was also to arrest the lull experienced due to the weekend’s House of Assembly re-run election in Niger State which affected truck movement from the Suleja depot.
— Feb 29, 2016 @ 10:45 GMT