Diezani Alison-Madueke, minister of petroleum resources, pays surprise visits to petrol stations in Lagos during which she accused petroleum marketers of creating artificial scarcity of the product through hoarding and diversion
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Mar. 24, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT
WORRIED by the persistent scarcity of fuel in the country, Diezani Alison-Madueke, minister of petroleum resources, paid a surprise visit to 15 petrol stations in Lagos, on Sunday, March 9. During her unscheduled inspection of filling stations in Surulere, Ikoyi, Ajah and Iponri areas of the state, the minister accused petroleum marketers in the country of diverting fuel for other uses other than its intended purposes.
“We have enough fuel to wet the country, but the challenge we are having is that, after loading, some truck drivers will not supply the lifted products at the designated filling stations. Having gone round the state, it is not just the filling stations in Ikoyi that appeared to be wet with the product, but other extreme locations like Ajah and other parts in Surulere. It appears there are lots of factors militating against efficient delivery of fuel. We learnt that some of the marketers instructed their drivers to change the number plates of their trucks to make it difficult for tracking. Does it mean those markets they are diverting the product to are more lucrative than intended markets,” she said.
Alison-Madueke, however, gave the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company, PPMC, a 48-hour deadline to end fuel scarcity in Lagos and its environs. The minister, who threatened to publish the names of the marketers found diverting fuel, said a directive had been given to the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, the PPMC, and the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, to investigate the issue and report back in 24 hours.
“There is diversion and I want some ideas about the diversion. If we can establish that there is, I want to know when and how this is being done. I have directed the heads of the agencies, the DPR, PPMC and PPPRA to get back to me on Monday, March 10, and give me a clear picture and timeline in terms of the number of trucks coming into Lagos, the volume and where they are getting to in terms of the market. They need to supply me how these trucks are being tracked because diversion is not easy to do. There will be sanctions and I’m ready to publish the names of anybody that may be involved.”
To achieve this, the PPMC said it would supply about 110 million litres of petrol to filling stations in Lagos. Gbenga Komolafe, executive director commercials, PPMC, said PPMC, had already supplied more than 74 million litres of petrol to Lagos, in the previous week. He gave the assurance that with the level of petrol in distribution across the country, normalcy would soon return to filling stations. “We have put in some measures to halt the artificially-induced fuel scarcity noticeable in parts of the country. We have also put in place measures to ensure a free-flow of petrol at filling stations in Lagos. NNPC is expected to supply 50 per cent of the petrol, while other marketers will supply 50 per cent. We have engaged stakeholders, including the NNPC, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN, and the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, to find lasting solutions to the lingering fuel situation,” he said.
Komolafe also used the opportunity to reiterate that there is no plan by the federal government to increase the pump price of petrol, and appealed to marketers to stop hoarding the fuel. “Members of the public should also not engage in panic buying. We are convinced that in the days ahead, fuel situation will normalise as there is enough petrol to go round.” According to him, PPMC has discharged a number of vessels from the major marketers, adding that four vessels with more than 74 million litres were currently discharging to clear the queues. “We have discharged a vessel, Alzea with 30 million litres; Ocean Centrum belonging to NIPCO with 22 million litres; and Vinte Enterpriser with 22 million litres.The vessels are currently discharging at Apapa, IBM Jetty, Capital Jetty and SPM Jetty in Lagos. While we intensify the on-going direct monitoring of fuel situation across Lagos and its environs, we are providing extra volume of product to eliminate the queues arising from the scarcity.”
Despite the promises motorists are still stranded as fuel scarcity bites harder. Some motorists still buy the product at between N120 and 150, as against the regulated price of N97. In Enugu metropolis, commuters were stranded at various bus stops on Monday, March 10, following a sharp rise in transport fares due to fuel scarcity in the state.
School children, workers and traders were stranded at bus stops, due to non- availability of vehicles. The development made commercial vehicle operators to increases fares, forcing many to resort to trekking. Investigations showed that commercial buses charged between N80 and N100 from Abakpa Nike to Old Park and Obiagu as against the previous fare of N50. The same situation obtained at Garki, Emene, Trans-Ekulu and Uwani, where commuters paid as much as N150 to get to their destinations.
Some students of the Enugu State University of Science and Technology, attending lectures at the Agbani Campus of the university in Nkanu West local government, said they paid N200 as against N100 to get to school while some commercial vehicle operators said they purchased fuel at N150 per litre, adding that they spent the whole day in queues at filling stations.