Abuja residents face fuel scarcity again

fuel queue
FILE PHOTO: Fuel queue

Residents of the Federal Capital Territory are caught in another fuel supply crisis. 

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has been hit by another fuel scarcity, as long queues were noticed in most filling stations in the city on Tuesday.

Two weeks ago, the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Worker (NUPENG) withdrew their services and refused to supply petroleum products to Abuja, to protest Federal Government’s non-payment of outstanding subsidy for fuel imported by oil marketers. This led to a shortage of petroleum products which practically shut-down normal business activities in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

No official explanation has been offered as to the real cause of the latest scarcity, which began to manifest late Monday evening.

The crisis has fuelled the emergence of the ‘black market’, with 10-litre keg of petrol sold for N3, 000, as against the normal price of N970.

Most commuters said they have to travel the long distance to Keffi in neighbouring Nassarawa State to buy fuel for their business.

At the Conoil filling station located opposite the NNPC Towers in the Central Business District, the management had a hectic time controlling anxious commuters that queued for hours waiting to be served.

According to members of the tanker drivers union, the fuel supply situation has gone bad in all the places, including Lagos. The drivers say the depots in Lagos have only 12 trucks for distribution of petroleum products nationwide, as most products marketers were not importing petroleum products due to the unresolved issue of fuel subsidy payments.

“Marketers have said that they are not going to continue importation of petroleum products till further notice, because most banks are not ready to give loan as they are not sure of getting back their money,” one of the marketers who pleaded anonymity said in Abuja.

“Government should take urgent steps to rescue the situation by guaranteeing loans from the bank to petroleum importers; that is the only way out of the present crisis situation,’’ he said.

But the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) management has assured that there is enough of the product to last a minimum of 30 days.

The General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of the Corporation, Fidel Pepple, said the Pipeline and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of the Corporation, has enough fuel in the country to meet national demand for at least 30 days, even if all the local refineries were down, without any further importation.

“What is happening is panic buying of fuel by consumers as a result of reports that some marketers have stopped importing fuel, and that NNPC does not have enough stock to go round,” he said.

According to Mr. Pepple, major marketers had not been importing fuel for some time now. He said that the NNPC has been sustaining supplies to the national economy for the period.

“As the nation’s fuel supplier of last resort, NNPC will ensure that there is no shortage of supply,’’ he said.

Mr. Pepple urged marketers and managers of filling stations to desist from hoarding or diversion of the product. He warned that any marketer caught indulging in such illegal activities would be sanctioned.

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