The current fuel scarcity experienced in major parts of the country took a worse turn yesterday, with most Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) filling stations running out of stock.
When newsmen visited the NNPC filling station on Charity Road in Lagos and another on old Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway close to the Abbatoir, both in Abule Egba Area of Lagos, and the mega station at 2nd Rainbow on the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, the three stations had no product to sell.
But, the NNPC filling station on Jonathan Coker also in Abule Egba, dispensed fuel to motorists as early as 8am at N150 per litre as against the recommended retail price of N145 or less.
Some motorists who spoke to newsmen expressed their frustration, saying under no condition should NNPC filling station sell petrol above the official retail price.
A motorist, who identified himself as Mr. Kayode Ajibode, called on the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to match its words with action by clamping down on filling stations that are all out to exploit members of the public.
Meanwhile, DPR Lagos Region yesterday, sealed Oando filling station in Lekki, over molestation of its personnel.
Mr Usman Ndanusa, the Deputy Director and Head of Downstream Division of DPR, who led the team said the operator of the station molested DPR staff who were on inspection to the station
Ndanusa said the essence of coming down here was to show the world that the department had zero tolerance for manhandling of his staff.
“When the monitoring team of DPR visited the station on December 7, they were not selling product to motorists.
“They challenged the station manager and attendants on the reason why they were not selling products when they had 32,000 litres in their underground tanks.It was at this point, they started molesting our personnel,’’
In a related development, the horrendous fuel queues which had continued for five days in Abuja have begun to thin out. This was as officials of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and DPR commenced crack down on recalcitrant oil marketers hoarding petrol just to create artificial scarcity and rip off hapless consumers by selling far above the approved price of N145 per litre.
While the taskforce was yet to return from its enforcement drive as at the time of filing this report, Daily Sun investigations reveal that more fuel stations, especially those along the airport road, sold petrol compared to the situation few days ago where mainly NNPC mega stations dispensed fuel.
Notwithstanding, the situation was still rough in Wuse and Maitama as fuel queues, which hitherto snatched a lane on some dual carriage ways, have reduced slightly. The soothing development may not be unconnected with NNPC’s sustained efforts to bridge the supply gap.
The national oil company on Tuesday said it has increased the number of trucks that supplied petrol to Lagos and Abuja to 300 and 170 daily respectively.
“The PMS stock is also boosted by supplies from Port Harcourt Refinery as well as Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company, which are autonomous business units of the corporation.
Commenting on the improved supply, a motorist, Wale Bamidele, said, “I queued up for only 30 minutes before buying petrol. Yesterday, I spent three hours. So, I can see an improvement and I hope it gets better, not worse. They should let us celebrate Christmas in peace,” he said.
But despite the noticeable improvement in fuel supplies, hawkers still sold petrol at exorbitant prices to motorists, who could not queue for long.
Meanwhile, the Head of Down Stream, Benin field office of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Mr. Victor Enilama, announced yesterday that there were currently over 70 million litres of the product in stock in Oghara, Koko and Warri depots.
Enilama who disclosed this while speaking to journalists in Benin, blamed the current crisis in the sector on marketers of the product, racketeering and economic sabotage.
Explaining that the distribution chain of the product has not changed, the DPR boss advised Nigerians to stop panic buying of PMS as the Nigeria National Petroleum Product (NNPC), has enough in stock.
“Even in the NNPC depot in Benin that is not stocking out product because of the line break, I want to tell you that we still bridge product from the Warri Refinery to this depot,” he said.
Enilama who attributed the current situation to greed on the part of marketers explained that “in the system of petroleum distribution, the margins are small, they are never high volume, you cannot bring in product and want to make between N5 and N8.
“If you go to Oando, Total and the rest of them, the dealers do not make more than N1. Even in NNPC mega stations, it is the same,” the DPR boss said, adding that most of the dealers have given reasons for selling above the government regulated price to the high amount at which they buy from private depots.
“We are telling them to come out with the receipts of evidence that they buy the product at such an amount. We have a coupon at the depots, signed by the DPR, the representative of the depot owners and also the person buying the product. I want to tell you that they cannot produce these evidences and this is an issue for DPR.
“This is the reason we are working with EFCC. We are also monitoring the private depots to find out those selling above the stipulated price. Those caught in the act will be fined. We have stipulated sanctions for these offences….”