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Fuel price hits the skies, as scarcity bites harder

It has been weeks of  scarcity of fuel across Nigeria, as motorists spend long hours in queues at filling stations to buy what many now…

It has been weeks of  scarcity of fuel across Nigeria, as motorists spend long hours in queues at filling stations to buy what many now call ‘black gold.’ But what has remained a constant headache to consumers of the commodity is the price hike that has come with the scarcity, at the few filling stationswhich open occasionally.
In Kaduna, the fuel shortage has led to long queues in petrol stations, with a concomitant increase in pump price. Investigations revealed that the price of fuel ranges between N100 and N130 per litre, depending on individual stations. The dealers’ aim for a ‘kill’ in the black market arena, as the price could sometimes rise above N150 per litre.
For instance, at Fouad Petrol Station Kawo, motorists were buying the product at N125 per litre. An official in the station, who pleaded anonymity, said the increase could be attributed to the lack of concern in regulating petroleum products by the relevant authorities.
The source added:  “We bought petrol at N115 per litre at the depot, far above the stipulated N97 and there is no way we can sell it lower considering transportation costs. The control of pump price is beyond the independent marketers, because the price fluctuated at the depot and government is aware.”
Also, at Samdara Filling Station in Ungwan Romi, the product is sold at N110 a litre, which is apparently one of the few independent stations selling at this low rate. One of the pump attendants said “the slight jump of pump price” was because petrol price was increased at Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) depots. He said the reason could be due to insufficient supply of the product from refineries.
At Oando Station Kawo, the manager Auwal Ahmed, said fuel scarcity started in the city about two weeks ago and hasn’t subsided yet. He added that only a small quantity of petrol is given to major stations intermittently.
“I got only 12,000 litres of petrol on Sunday and that was sold immediately. We did not increase the price because unlike others. We still sell oil at N97 per litre; but recently, the product has not been consistently supplied to us. I have actually seen a number of independent marketers increasing the pump prices,” he said.
It was observed that major marketers in Kaduna such as Oando, Total, NIPCO and Mobil were selling petrol at official price of N97 a litre, as only independent marketers were selling at increased rates.
Most of the filing stations visited by our reporter along Kaduna-Abuja road were not selling Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), as petrol is also known , except  other products like  kerosene. The few operating stations were selling at higher prices.
At Jere  , about three filling stations belonging to independent marketers sold petrol at different rates. At the Al-Taofeek Station, the product was selling at N125 per litre, while Shadeen and Dan Abdulkadir stations sold petrol at N130 per litre.
A source said petroleum marketers had to increase pump prices because of the surge in the price of the commodity at the Suleja NNPC depot.
He stated that: “We bought petrol at N120 a litre at the Sueja depot. And when you calculate the amount of money you spend to transport it to the filling station, you find out that there is no much gain in the business even at N130 per liter.”
Many private and commercial motorists expressed displeasure over the persisting fuel scarcity and increase in pump price. The leadership of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), said in most cases, commercial drivers operate at a loss because the money they generate is below the amount used in fuelling.
“Our members have complained for the past three weeks of inadequate supply of petrol at major filling stations and rise in pump price at independent filling stations. The price now fluctuates between N110 and N150 per litre,” the NURTW public relations officer in Kaduna, Comrade Bature Yusuf Suleiman, said.
He said the union has pleaded with its members not to hike transport fares in the interest of the masses, because the move could adversely affect food prices.
“We are still monitoring the situation. We told our members to desist from increasing transport fares in spite of the daily business losses they incur. But we shall be forced to make adjustments, if government refuses to address the situation. So I call on the authorities to stabilise the pump prices,” he said.
 Similarly, in Ilorin, capital of Kwara state, fuel scarcity in the metropolis and its environs has intensified. This is despite claims by the NNPC that it has supplied additional volumes of petroleum to the state.
Investigations by Weekly Trust showed that rather than abate, the fuel scarcity which began in Kwara State some three weeks ago, has worsened in recent times.
At present, black marketers of the product have taken advantage of the development to fleece motorists.
Some motorists who spoke to Weekly Trust said they bought a litre of fuel for as high as N110 and N120 as against the official N97.  It was also gathered that in the black market, a gallon of fuel is sold at between N750 and N800.
Investigations further unveiled that only NNPC outlets are selling the product at the official rate, but with unusually long queues as observed at University of Ilorin permanent site road along Tanke .All the other nine independent filling stations along the same road were shut.
Filling stations owned by independent marketers in Ilorin were not dispensing fuel as they said they hadranout of stock.
The state chairman of Independent Petroleum Marketers’ Association Nigeria (IPMAN), Mr. AbdulrasheedOlopade, pleaded with government to extend the supply given to Lagos to Ibadan for onward distribution to Ilorin depot.
According to him, 95 percent of the supply was concentrated in Lagos whereas Ilorin too has been experiencing fuel scarcity for the past three weeks.
In the commercial city of Kano, a litre of fuel jumped to as much as N145 per litre, as the scarcity entered its second week.
The scarcity has spread to other local government areas in the state, where the product is sold in filling stations which were operating like the black market.
A litreof petrol sold at between N135 and N145 at Panshekara and Tamburawa in Kumbotso local government area, as well as inDawakin-Kudu local government.
A manager in one of the filling stations along BayeroUniversity Kano road, who pleaded anonymity said: “we do not have it here as you can see. The only places you can get itis if you can go Panshekara area, you can get it at black market. I think they are selling a litreat N145. We do not know when to get even though some are saying they are expecting it next week but until we see it.”
Many filling stations in Kano Municipal were closed, while a filling station along Sharada road in Gwale Local Government Area, sold at the normal price of N97, but there was a long irritating queue there.
A customer, Ibrahim Aliyu, who spoke with Weekly Trust while waiting in the long queue said, he had spent about one hour and was still had no idea when it would get to his turn to buy.
Another motorist, who simply identified himself as Abdullahi, said some filling stations which werenot selling above the official pump price had adjusted pumps and were short-changing their customers.
A road side fuel vendor at Panshekara who gave his name as Auwal, said: “we are selling a gallon of four liters at N700.”

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