In spite of assurances by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, on Friday that the fuel scarcity that resurfaced in most major cities last Thursday would soon disappear, the situation worsened at the weekend in Abuja and environs.
Long queues of anxious motorists continued to build outside most filling stations in the capital city, as most vehicle owners and commercial cab operators virtually relocated from their homes to the stations in an attempt to buy some quantity of the elusive essential commodity.
Some motorists, who said they woke up early on Sunday to see if they could buy fuel, were disappointed as stocks in most filling stations ran dry shortly after mid-day.
Except at the NNPC mega filling station in the Central Business District, most other filling stations were out of stock early, leaving long queues of vehicles stretching into distances.
The Conoil and Total filling stations located opposite the NNPC headquarters were dispensing till afternoon on Sunday, when they exhausted their stocks, while the Forte Oil filling station adjacent to NNPC mega station and Oando in Zone 1 were completely shut-down.
The Total and Oando filling stations at the Julius Berger round about, which sold the previous evening, did not have fuel to dispense to their customers by afternoon on Sunday, same as the Mobil, Conoil filling stations at Utako and IPCO, Forte Oil and Oando service stations at Jabi.
The situation was not different with most filling stations along the Airport Road, AYA, Maraba, Kubwa and Suleja in neighbouring Niger State.
In the wake of the worsening fuel crisis, the NNPC on Friday warned petroleum products consumers against panic buying and hoarding of fuel.
The Corporation’s spokesperson, Ohi Alegbe, who described the fuel queues noticed in some fuel stations across the country as artificial, said it was not necessary to switch on to the panic mode in desperate search for products, as adequate provision had been made for fuel supply within 48 hours.
Mr. Alegbe, who allayed the fears of consumers, said an additional volume of about 688 million litres of petrol had been supplied to the market for distribution.
The NNPC, he said, was working with all downstream industry operators, particularly marketers, to resolve the supply crisis.
Apart from having a healthy stock in its reserves at the strategic depots, he said the corporation had substantially increased the volume of petroleum products distributed to marketers, to check any short fall capable of triggering fears of an imminent scarcity of products.
However, the NNPC is still confident that the situation would soon normalise, as it takes days to completely resolve a disruption in the supply of products throughout the country.
Meanwhile, there was a stampede Monday morning as motorists on fuel queue outside the Mobil Filling station beside Mountain of Fire Church. Utako, scampered for safety after a tricycle popularly called (Keke NAPEP) caught fire near the station.