As the scarcity of petrol continued on Monday across the country, illegal hawkers of the commodity on the black markets resurfaced in parts of Lagos, Abuja and other cities, selling the product for between N120 and N200 per litre to desperate motorists and other users.
The official pump prices of petrol are N86 and N86.50 per litre at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s filling stations and those belonging to independent marketers, respectively.
This is coming as the NNPC announced that it had secured the commitment of the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria to end the latest fuel crisis, which began last week.
But the marketers said they had yet to receive supply of the 180 million litres of petrol that the NNPC claimed to have delivered as part of measures to ease the scarcity.
In Lagos, the product was sold on the black market for between N150 and N200 per litre, depending on the area. For instance, a cab operator, Patrick Omoregie, said he bought a five-litre keg of petrol at Oshodi for N750.
But petrol hawkers at Gbadaga, near the Mobil filling station, and those at Palmgrove and Fadeyi on Ikorodu Road, offered to sell 10 litres of the product for N2,000.
One of our correspondents also observed that black market hawkers in Abuja, Nasarawa and Kaduna were selling petrol on the major roads.
They sold the product in jerry cans to willing motorists who could afford the cost. The prices ranged from N1,200 to N1,500 for 10 litres of petrol.
Many filling stations belonging to independent marketers in Lagos and Abuja were shut on Monday, as they claimed not to have the product to dispense.
The marketers said their inability to source enough foreign exchange from the banks was hampering fuel importation by them.
Queues of desperate motorists grew longer at the few filling stations that had petrol to dispense than what was witnessed on Sunday. And for filling stations located along major roads, the queues spilled to the highways, causing serious traffic snarls.
For instance, the MRS, Mobil, Oando, Total and Conoil filling stations from the Alapere end of the Third Mainland Bridge to the Berger end of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway were dispensing the product, but the queues extended to the roads and affected the movement of other motorists.
Motorists like Pastor Felix Bakare, Omoregie and Makanjuola Yakubu, who spoke with one of our correspondents in Lagos, said they spent between two and three hours at filling stations before they could get the product.
The National Operation Controller, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Mike Osatuyi, said in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents on Monday that the supply of petrol to members of the body had not improved.
“The status quo remains. There is no fuel. Where are the cargos they brought and which depots are the product discharged into? Let them pump it out. Let us wait and see the fuel that they said they brought,” he said.
The Chairman, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, Lagos Zone, Alhaji Tokunbo Korodo, said, “Since Thursday, the Ibadan, Ejigbo and Mosimi depots have not been loading. They are just rationing the product. Where is the product?
“With the way the situation is going, if it is not urgently controlled, it will trigger a major crisis.”
The Executive Secretary, Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association, Mr. Olufemi Adewole, said, “The Pipelines and Product Marketing Company is importing 78 per cent of the total consumption and its managing director has come on air to say they are working seriously to bridge the gap. All of us are waiting for them.”
He added that the major marketers and DAPPMA members were given only 22 per cent, adding, “DAPPMA was importing 55 per cent before. Now, our share has been slashed to less than 10 per cent.”
The NNPC, however, said in a statement by its Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Mr. Ohi Alegbe, that it had stepped up its collaboration with MOMAN and other downstream industry players to end the fuel queues.
It stated that it had secured the commitment of the leadership of MOMAN and gave an assurance that the queues would disappear in the days ahead as supplies had been ramped up.
According to the NNPC, the ‘truck-out’ to filling stations in the Lagos area has been increased from the regular 245 to 295 trucks per day (9.7 million litres), while the supply from the Suleja depot to Abuja has is now 210 trucks per day (6.9 million litres) from the previous 160 trucks.
The corporation added that similar increases had been done in Port Harcourt, Calabar, Kano and Kaduna.
“Within the last 48 hours, we have received six cargos of petrol (270 million litres), and beginning from March 1, 2016 (today), we shall begin to receive one cargo of petrol every day (45 million litres),” the statement added.