Fuel scarcity takes toll on businesses nationwide

The nationwide industrial action embarked upon by oil industry workers since Monday has resulted in a fuel scarcity that has already taken a serious toll on businesses in major cities, particularly Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt.

Since last Monday when the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, chapter of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, and their counterparts in the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, called out their members on strike, normal supply of petroleum products has been disrupted nationwide.

The situation around locations where NNPC petroleum products depots are located has been under crisis, with long queues of trucks waiting for several hours to load products, while motorists are experiencing difficult times at petrol stations as they wait to buy fuel.

In Abuja, the NNPC filling station located in the Central Business District, which usually serves as the main source of fuel for motorists in the Federal Capital Territory, had a long queue of anxious customers most of whom waited for several hours for service.

Apart from a few service stations belonging to the major oil marketing companies, most of the other independent marketers’ stations were not operating till late in the afternoon.

In Lagos, most small scale businesses around Ejigbo and Mosimi, where the NNPC depots are located, were virtually closed, as the usual long line of trucks waiting to load outside their gates were had dispersed following the closure of their loading bays.

Most of the business operators lamented the negative impact of the crisis on their families’ daily incomes as schools prepare to reopen nationwide on Monday.

A popular restaurant operator close to Ejigbo fuel depot, Gladys Johnson, said business has been very slow since the strike began, as the bulk of her patrons were workers and visitors to the depot.

According to Mrs. Johnson, the strike had forced her and most other operators to resort to cooking food from home and displaying it at the road side.

“On the average, I realise about N12,000 on a normal daily. But, l hardly make N6,000 since the strike started on Monday,” Mrs. Johnson said. “The situation is so bad that we could not continue our daily contributions due to the strike. We hope the strike ends on time to allow us return to our business.”

Another food vendor at Mosimi depot, Afusat Fatai, urged government and the unions to find a common ground to dialogue on the issues underlining the strike action.

The Chairman, Concerned Fuel Marketers, Salau Jimoh, said the strike might lead to another round of petroleum products scarcity with the closure of all the nation’s refineries.

Mr. Jimoh said that closure of the four refineries located in Kaduna, Port Harcourt and Warri were compounded by the shutdown of activities at the 23 petroleum products depots operated by the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company, PPMC, a subsidiary of NNPC, nationwide.

The strike was embarked upon by the unions following the unresolved pension issues between them and the NNPC because of alleged inability of the corporation to bridge the N85 billion gap in their pension scheme.

The members of the unions also impressed on government to take the issue of turn around maintenance (TAM) of the Nigeria’s four refineries seriously to boost the capacity for local refining of petroleum products.

The unions also used the action to press for increased allocation of crude oil for local refining to help reduce the growing reliance on importation of petroleum products for domestic consumption.

Crude oil allocation for local refining has steadily declined over the years largely over accountability issues.

The unions argued that if the situation was allowed to persist, it would gradually impact on the role of the national oil company in the industry, rendering it virtually redundant.

The National Pension Commission had written to the NNPC to remind them of the directives for the corporation to discontinue the closed pension scheme arrangement it was currently operating and join the open scheme under its supervision.

But, the workers, whose major source of apprehension was the lack of accountability and security of contributions under the open pension scheme, had rejected the directive by PENCOM opting to embark on strike.

Part of the demand of the unions was for NNPC to be allowed to run its workers’ pension exclusively like other institutions as the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.

Other issues raised by the unions as reasons for embarking on the industrial action included the need for government to take seriously the issue of turn around maintenance (TAM) of the country’s four refineries to boost the capacity for local refining of petroleum products.

The unions said they were using the action to press for increased allocation of crude oil for local refining to help reduce the growing reliance of importation of petroleum products for domestic consumption.

Crude oil allocation for local refining has steadily declined over the years largely over accountability issues.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Emeka Wogu, urged Nigerians not to panic over the current fuel scarcity in the country.

“Everything is under control,” Mr. Wogu said. “Discussions with the relevant stakeholders, which started yesterday (Monday) are going on. There should be no need for panic buying of fuel. I am positive that the issue will be resolved soon.”


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  • BlackieUmukoro

    PENCOM wan thief oil workers pension. It can’t work and will never work. Civil servants who retired three years ago are yet to get their claims from the failing PENCOM

  • $20 billion (dollars) is still unaccounted for at NNPC.

  • total

    To the writer: What you just wrote was from Fela Kuti. (You be robber). Fela has been sounding this noise from the 70’s.

  • Akporhuarho O Johnson

    Amed, 100 people stole and everybody is aware that they stole but because one of them is a woman, weak and sickly you decided that she should be executed. Now, Amed, what do you think should happen to the 99? What we are saying, for Nigeria to be clean begining from 1960 gather all the corrupt people and send them to the gallow. That was exactly what Ghana did. If you want to kill a lion you don’t kiss it.

    • thaOptimist

      I differ in your recommendation dat the probe should be from 1960. Who is gonna do it anyway? That ll be too much burden for the present administration. If past administrations refused to probe the other because they were from d same party dat burden shouldn’t be transferred to the present administration especially as this particular probe involve mind boggling sums which jus canot be ignored. Plus d. Writer made no emphasis on d woman..

      • Akporhuarho O Johnson

        It is the same set of people at the national assembly, presidency etc. they are just recycling themselves. They are all thieves and companion of thieves. Show me which of them is a saint.

        • thaOptimist

          With dis kind of mindset we wont achieve anything ever it has to be set in motion and pursued vigorously n seriously. Some persons hav to be made examples so that it can properly sink in the psyche of the people that this here is a serious business