…Tankers discharge at filling stations from 7pm
By Folake Ogunleye
Fuel price hits N400 per litre and long queues worsened at the weekend nationwide as marketers adopted selling of premium motor spirit ( PMS) during the night to avoid monitoring by officials of the Department of Petroleum Resources ( DPR).
Investigations by Nigerian NewsDirect revealed that sales of PMS takes place outside Lagos now between 8pm and 10pm in the night. For morning sales, stations selling above the official price of N145 per litre are open for sales between 5am and 8am.
The prices range between N200 and N350 per litre.
Investigations revealed that petrol tankers with fuel are made to arrive designated station very late in the evening so that motorists will not be aware of the discharge which takes place in the night.
The driver of a branded NIPCO tanker claimed to have a bad engine was found at a pepper soup joint with his boys at Itoki, along Agbado-Ijoko road. However, at exactly 6.45pm, the driver left the pepper soup restaurant to discharge at a filling along the road owned by a popular Alhaji who changed the colour of all his filling stations from Texaco to NNPC retail and now to his own branded name. ( with-held)
For instance in Sango Ota, the head office of Nigerian NewsDirect, most stations including major marketers are locked up during the day period to avoid harassment by security agencies and DPR officials. When our reporter visited a branded filling station of Mobil Oil ( Now 11 Plc) located along Ijoko road on Friday, the attendant sold PMS to two vehicles claimed to have been sent by the Director of the filling station but refused to sell for the car of NewsDirect. When the manager was interrogated, he bluntly told our reporter to look for fuel elsewhere.
Even though, he refused to provide phone number of his director, when our reporter finally obtained phone number of his director ( from his editor) , who is a serving Deputy Commissioner of Police, text message sent to him received no response.
Hence, motorists were made to queue for two days in Lagos while stations along Along Abeokuta express way, Ibadan expressway, Idiroko expressway opened filling stations to sell at N250 per litre. Black market price at point close to these stations sell between N350 and N400 per litre.
A popular major marketer filling at Arigbajo near Ifo along Lagos- Abeokuta expressway also sold PMS at N250 per litre which was made possible through a tricycle rider. When NewsDirect visited the station, the attendant refused to sell with a claim of no fuel while enquiry was made at Ifo, it was gathered that the station will only sell through containers through well known third party. This made NewsDirect to engage a tricycle rider who bought 30 litres for NewsDirect at N7,500 or N250 per litre and N2000 for transporting the fuel.
Despite assurances by various government agencies and officials that the current fuel crisis will abate, the situation across the country portends a bleak Christmas, as the scarcity bites harder and thousands are forced to sleep in filling stations to purchase the product.
When the crisis worsened, following the threat by the Independent Petroleum Products Marketers of Nigeria, IPMAN, to embark on a nationwide strike, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Dr Ibe Kachikwu, following the marching orders by the Executive Council of the Federation, FEC, said the problem was going to end in a few days.
Subsequent assurances from the NNPC was that enough had been done, by increasing the number of trucks of petroleum products to major cities to take care of the scarcity.
But, days after those assurances, the situation in Lagos, Abuja and most other major cities across the country remain far from normal, as fuel remains in short supply, with attendant high prices.
The resultant impact has been rising transportation fares by almost 100 per cent, as Nigerians prepare for Christmas.
In Abule-egba, Lagos, many stations were closed, while the few that were opened sold petrol at between N200 and N250 per litre.