Barely two months after petrol scarcity hit major cities across Nigeria, fuel queues have resurfaced in petrol stations in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
A PREMIUM TIMES correspondent who visited petrol stations Monday evening found that some of the stations were shut while others were besieged by motorcyclists, tricycle owners, as well as private and commercial drivers.
This newspaper also found that some NNPC retail stations were equally shut.
As of Monday night, no fuel station sold petrol to motorists along Lugbe Airport Road and Kubwa expressway.
The development, said to have been triggered by the strike action announced by petrol transport drivers, has generated traffic gridlock across different locations in the capital city.
A Mobil filling station located along the airport road, Lugbe, was shut Monday evening. The station manager told PREMIUM TIMES that they had exhausted their stock.
Similarly, a Forte Oil filling station at Life Camp junction was opened but commercial drives and other customers were not attended to. One of the pump attendants claimed that the petrol station also has no stock.
Danmarna petroleum limited, located along the airport road, was under lock and key Monday evening, just as the Conoil filling station located beside the NNPC fuel station in Lugbe did not open for business.
When PREMIUM TIMES arrived one of the NNPC outlets in Lugbe, the attendants had stopped dispensing to customers, but some of the motorists refused to leave the petrol station.
Many of the attendants who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES in some of the outlets explained that they declined to sell petrol in anticipation of a price hike Tuesday morning.
A civil servant at NNPC station at Lugbe airport road, who identified himself as David, told PREMIUM TIMES that he heard of a proposed strike by NUPENG. He also lamented the ripple effect of scarcity.
“My office is very close to NNPC tower,” he began, “I drove out and trying looking at Conoil and Total to get fuel but I found out that Conoil was not selling and Total was just selling partially and I decided to drive down to another major NNPC filling station where I am currently only for me to discover that the NNPC is not selling.
“My fear is this: I was just telling a couple of people at the station that some schools just resumed today, why some will resume next week. How do they want people to go to work and children to go to school?”
David said in many parts of the city, there is no electricity.
“I am looking at my house away from the station now, there is no light,” he said.
“Most people are even here at the filling station trying to get fuel just to power their generator. The question is, is this oppression number two?”
He also wondered why the scarcity and the attendant chaos began immediately President Muhammadu Buhari returned from his medical trip in London.
“Yes, we know the oil price and everything is going up,” he said. “We understand but the question is: they’ve been talking about deregulation and subsidy, we don’t even know what’s happening.
“Who is deregulating and who is subsidising? Who is doing what?” he asked. Nigerian’s can’t continue like this.”
A commercial driver, Akeem Musa, lamented and appealed to the government to intervene as soon as possible in order to control the effect of the scarcity on the already high prices of goods and services.
Another driver, Moses Asani, said it is better to buy petrol at a costly price than being unable to buy the products due scarcity.
He said: “Look at my car there, I parked it there because I didn’t see fuel all the way from Aco. All the fuel stations there are not selling.
“I checked almost four stations down there and I did not see fuel to buy.
“Now, I have to park my car because I don’t have fuel inside. This thing is affecting us extremely is not easy at all. Even if they want to increase the fuel, they should increase it and let us see fuel to buy.
“You know if you come to buy fuel and you see it, that is better but if you don’t see fuel to buy, what are you going to do?”
Usman Abdullah, another driver at the station, lamented that he spent more than an hour in the queue but still could not buy petrol.
“I have been here for the past one hour and NNPC is telling us that they don’t have fuel,” he said.
But in its reaction to the scarcity and anticipated hike in price, the Nigerian National Petroleum corporation (NNPC) said it will not increase the ex- depot price of petrol in May.
The Group Managing Director, Mele Kyari, made this known at the end of a closed door meeting with Petroleum Transport Drivers (PTD), National Association of Road Transporters Owners (NARTO) and oil marketers in Abuja on Monday.
Ex-depot price is the price marketers buy products from depot owners. It also determines the pump price at filling stations.
“We want to inform oil marketing companies that NNPC will not increase the pump price of PMS in May,” the NNPC said.
“I am giving the assurance and I ask Nigerians to go about their normal businesses; we have over 20 billion litres of petrol in our custody. Many of you are aware of this and with the assurance with tanker drivers and NUPENG, there is no need for panic buying of the product.
“Petrol will be available in all the depots in the country including NNPC dispatched depot across the country, so nobody should panic in buying the product,” he said.
Commenting on the strike by PTD, the NNPC said he said it was due to NARTO’s inability to increase their compensation which was not resolved last week.
“We have given commitment to both NARTO and PTD that we will resolve the issue within a week and come back to the table to have a total closure on the issue,” the NNPC boss was quoted as saying.
“We also have a robust engagement with our oil marketing partners in respect of increase in the volume product that is check in the Nigerian market. We have agreed to work jointly with all the security agencies to contain any possible infractions seen in our borders.
“We will work as a team to curtail this fraudulent practice with the help of the security agencies,” he added.
He explained further that the meeting also discussed issues on payment by Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) to oil marketing companies.
He said that all stakeholders agreed in making PMS available to marketers.
in his reaction, Yusuf Orthman, NARTO President, commended the NNPC for the intervention and assured that within the next seven days, things will normalise in the adjustment of allowances of PTD.
“We have requested that they bring three persons so that we discuss the issues but that would not have been possible without this intervention,’ he said.
“We hope that within the next seven days things will normalise and I want to assure Nigerians that we are committed to it.
The PTD president also said that the strike has been suspended until the next seven days
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that he commended the NNPC and all the stakeholders for their quick intervention.
“We believe that the condition of service of tanker drivers and others need to be improved and we believe that everything will be resolved as discussed,” he said.