Residents of Abuja, Nasarawa, Kano state, among others said they have battled with petrol scarcity on Tuesday as scores of fuel stations shut down operations.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had said on Monday that it had intervened in a dispute between the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) and Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) as the latter went on strike and stopped lifting fuel from the depots.
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However, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mallam Mele Kolo Kyari, said with the intervention, PTD suspended the strike on Monday for a week for discussions.
However, Daily Trust survey on Tuesday indicated that most filling stations in Abuja Municipal Centre were not selling fuel as motorists besieged the few that operated, leading to long queues.
The situation led to commuters stranded as few cars plied major roads in the city.
A motorist, Haruna Musa, said he was surprised to see filling stations closed on Tuesday as there were no incidents to suggest there would be fuel scarcity a day before.
Gbenga Ajayi, a taxi driver, lamented that despite the scarcity, those selling black-market were able to secure fuel alleging that filling station managers are complicit in the scarcity.
However, a black marketer, who sells his product in kegs along Banex Plaza, said he bought a 10-litre petrol for N3000 and would sell it for N4000 adding that he purchased it from friends who also engage in the business.
Scarcity observed in Kano, Nasarawa
In Kano, our reporter observed that the fear of fuel scarcity that has been hanging around the state’s metropolis for the past two weeks is still around with several filling stations still shut.
It was discovered that while seven of the 14 filling stations observed were dispensing fuel, seven others had their gates shut.
A staff of Magarsiku Intl. Ltd (fuel station) said they stopped operations because of the high cost of purchasing the product which has made all the marketers increase the pump price to N165 per litre from the initial N162 per litre.
“The pump price has increased by N3 and therefore we can neither buy nor sell fuels today because of the increment.”
At the other fuel stations, the staff said they did not know why their owners had not brought in new stock resulting in the shutdown yesterday.
In parts of Nasarawa state, the fuel scarcity was felt harder, according to residents. At Mararaba area of the state, only few fuel stations operated, attracting a long queue of motorists and motorcycle riders.
Commuters also said they had to pay more to get to work in the nearby Abuja city as only few vehicles operated while their counterparts were on queue to refuel.
Normal operations in Lagos
However, in Lagos, the situation is normal with no queue at the filling stations. A check by our correspondent revealed that the pause in petroleum product lifting by PTD as confirmed by NNPC leadership did not affect the state.
“We have fuel and we have been selling since morning without delay,” confirmed Shola, an attendant at a station in Ogba.
A motorist, Mr Kunle Ayo who had just filled his tank from the station, said that he heard there was a scarcity of fuel but he drove into the filling station and bought fuel.
Drivers of yellow buses, popularly known as Danfo also confirmed buying fuel from filling stations at the normal rate without stress.
Marketers seek explanation on deductions
Still on the fuel scarcity issue, the Northern Independent Petroleum Marketer’s Forum said the persistent, Illegal and unexplained deductions in their claims by Petroleum Equalization Fund (PEF) Management Board without evidence is worrisome.
This was contained in a communiqué jointly signed on behalf of the forum by Alhaji Auwalu Rimi and Alhaji Audu Manager and issued at the end of the forum’s inaugural meeting held in Kano.
The forum demanded for immediate payment of all outstanding claims, overhaul of Aquilla II processes to ensure payment of claims no longer exceed 48 hours as it was originally designed.
“Failure to take drastic steps on the issues raised in its resolutions will leave the forum with no choice but to withdraw its services,” it said in the communiqué.
Fuel queues to disappear soon – NNPC
Meanwhile the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mele Kyari, has frowned at the re-emergence of petrol queues across the country, assuring that the situation will normalize in hours.
According to a report by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Kyari who spoke after meeting President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja, on Tuesday, said the strike had been suspended for one week. “These queues will go away. It’s because there was an industrial action by petroleum tanker drivers against their employers, the NARTO around their compensation package.
“As I speak to you at this moment, loading has commenced in all depots in the country, dispatches of trucks are ongoing in all the depots in the country and they have called off the strike for a period of one week to enable us intervene and find a solution.”
Kyari further stated that the petrol queues had nothing to do with the ongoing issue of petroleum subsidy.
“There are engagements going on within the government to get the best framework for having a fully deregulated PMS market.
“That is why we know we will not be able to complete that in the month of May and therefore, we declared that there will be no increase in fuel price.”
Simon E. Sunday & Faruk Shuaibu (Abuja); Usman Bello Balarabe & Ibrahim Musa Giginyu (Kano) & Yvonne Ugwuezuoha (Lagos)