The perennial fuel crisis which has blighted the year worsened across the country, weekend, as hundreds of motorists slept in petrol stations with the intention of purchasing the products.
This was even as the Federal Government, yesterday, directed the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company, PPMC, and the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA , to commence a special supply intervention measures to bring an end to the perennial fuel scarcity witnessed across the country.
This intervention, according to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, is to ensure a country-wide availability of petroleum products ahead of the forthcoming yuletide and beyond.
To this end, the NNPC, in a statement in Abuja, noted that the Kaduna Refinery and Petrochemical Company resumed operation over the weekend while the intervention was kick-started with the ramping up of additional supply via massive truck-out to guarantee product penetration to the nooks and crannies of the country.
According to the NNPC, daily fuel truck out to locations such as Abuja, Kaduna, Kano, Enugu, Ibadan and Jos has been increased significantly to enhance free flow of products across the country.
The NNPC stated that it was consolidating its strategic alliance with some major depot owners and oil marketers with strong regional logistics outlay in those areas to ensure maximum infiltration of products especially in the hinterland ahead of the forthcoming Christmas and New Year festivities.
Warns against diversion, hoarding
While calling on members of the public to refrain from hoarding, product diversion and panic buying of petrol, the NNPC noted that the intervention measure would help circumvent the challenges posed by the unavailability of pipelines for the transportation of petroleum products.
It warned that product diversion is an economic crime and stated that it would not hesitate to report offenders to the security agencies for prosecution.
Despite the claims by the NNPC, the scarcity increased in intensity, Wednesday, few days after the Federal Government announced that it had paid oil marketers their outstanding subsidy claims, and it showed no sign of abating.
One motorist who spoke on condition of anonymity, disclosed that despite the fact that he came to the petrol station by 2 am, he couldn’t get the product to buy at the NNPC Mega Station at Katampe, along the Kubwa Expressway, till around noon.
Another motorist said he joined the queue 5 am on Sunday, but couldn’t get fuel to buy until 4 pm.
When Vanguard visited petrol stations along the Kubwa Expressway by 5am, vehicles were parked in front of the MRS, Mobil, Conoil, Total and Bulasawa filling stations, despite the fact that they were yet to commence business for the day.
Only the NNPC Mega Station was selling with queues stretching several kilometres and a chaotic situation.
To worsen matters, security personnel stationed at the entrance to the petrol stations to maintain orderliness were seen fuelling disordeliness. The security personnel allowed motorists who had paid them between N500 and N1,000, to enter through the exit gate, forcing other orderly motorists to spend several hours on the queue.
Same situation was witnessed in some petrol stations at the Central Business Districts, as some motorists claimed they had to leave their houses as early as 3am to join the queue.
As a result of the fuel crisis, transport companies hiked their fares, thereby, worsening the plight of commuters.
ABC Transport C ompany at Utako, for instance, hiked its fare from Abuja to Enugu to N6,000, weekend, from N4,500 earlier in the week.
Same situation was recorded in other transport companies heading to the south eastern part of the country, specifically, forcing people travelling for the Christmas holiday to incur additional costs.
Osun: The effect of fuel situation in Osun State worsened over the weekend as most filling stations sold their products between N140 and N150 per litre. The situation was not made better as the NNPC mega station which sold its petrol product at normal price of N87 per litre had no supply. Similarly, transporters who are on inter-state routes have subsequently increased their fare by about 25 per cent.
Kwara: The fuel situation in Kwara, particularly Ilorin, the state capital was worrisome as virtually all the fuel stations have remained under permanent lock for sometime now,except OANDO along Muritala and NNPC along Offa Garage Road and Asa Dam Road which dispense the products whenever they have.
As a result of this development,many motorists have now resorted to buying fuel in the nearby Ogbomosho, about 30 minutes drive where petrol was available at N140 per litre.
Anambra: Despite the availability of petroleum products in most filling stations in Anambra State, the prize has continued to hover between N115 and N130 per litre.
NNPC mega station in Awka, which is the only station selling at the official price of N87 per litre, does not sell regularly. Whenever there is fuel at the mega station, the queues are unusually long as many people would want to fill their vehicles at that rate.
Other stations with NNPC signs and the multinational companies have not been selling fuel to the public since the prize went up, as there were allegations that they prefer to sell to the independent markers wholesale who, in turn, were freer to sell at whatever rate they liked.
Unlike last week when many stations did not have fuel, almost all stations along the Awka–Onitsha-Owerri axis had fuel yesterday and there were no queues whatsoever.
Some of the fuel attendants said they were still trying to finish the fuel they lifted at very high rate before adjusting their pumps to the normal prize.
It was, however, discovered that some of the stations that were not selling when the prize was high have bought products, but were still claiming that they bought them at exorbitant rates.
Bayelsa: Petrol is relatively scarce in the predominantly riverine state. A litre is sold between N130 and N150 in filling stations across the state where the product is available.
This explained the daily long queue at the NNPC mega station along Sani Abacha express road in the heart of Yenagoa where a litre is sold at N87.
Motorists preferred the NNPC station to the other retail outlets in town regardless of the inconveniences in buying the product.
The NNPC mega station pumps are believed to be dispensing the actual fuel paid for as against the other retail outlets which pumps have been tampered with and are under dispensing to buyers.
Ogun: Many filling stations in the state locked their gates while the few that opened sell above the pump price at between N120 and N140 while only NNPC stations and MRS sell at N87 .
Following the scarcity of fuel in Abeokuta, the state capital and some other parts of the state,which include Ijebu-Ode, Ilaro among others, most commercial vehicles charged exorbitant prices.
Abia: Fuel scarcity persists in the state as most petrol stations have remained closed while the few that have products dispense at between N125 and N140 per litre. However, the NNPC Mega station on Enugu-Port Harcourt express road has been selling at N87 per litre though there are always long queues.
Oyo: Long and endless queues at filling stations which had subsided for a week have now returned. Premium Motor Spirit is sold for as much as N125 by some independent marketers while most major marketers shut their stations for lack of supply.
In Sabo area of the city, black market goes on unhindered as under age boys stand by the road sides with kegs of petroleum products.
Rivers: Black market operators dealing on petrol are still making brisk business in Port Harcourt, capital of Rivers State and adjourning local government areas because of scarcity of the product.
Most filling stations did not have product, the few that were selling dispensed to motorists at between N140 and N160 per litre. There were long queues at few filling stations of major marketers selling at N87 per litre. Commercial bus operators were still charging twice the fares for some routes because of the scarcity.