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Marketers blame forex, others as fuel scarcity returns to Lagos, Abuja

Marketers have attributed the petrol scarcity in Lagos and parts of Abuja to the rise of dollars against the naira, hoarding of petrol and bad…

Marketers have attributed the petrol scarcity in Lagos and parts of Abuja to the rise of dollars against the naira, hoarding of petrol and bad roads.

Checks by our correspondents in Abuja revealed that some stations had remained shut; while the few sighted selling had increased their price to N630 per liter.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL) had in July increased the pump price to N617 per litre, citing market forces.

Along the Kubwa Expressway in Abuja, the Eterna Filling Station, though with a few attendants around, did not sell the product. The situation was the same at Gegu Oil Station on the same expressway when our correspondent visited.

At the Aso Energy Resources Station at Kubwa Phase 2, our correspondent observed a lengthy queue, with only one functional pump as petrol was sold for N630.

Conoil, opposite the NNPC towers in Central Area, Abuja, was found selling the product for N623 per liter.

But, some NNPCL stations at Wuse Zone 6 and Garki Area 10 in Abuja were dispensing at the N617 official price. 

In Lagos State, Daily Trust reports that filling stations, including some operated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, have shut their outlets against motorists and other buyers.

This has led to long queues and hike in price at the few stations dispensing the product. The petrol price has crossed over N600 at many independent filling stations even as major stations are selling above the N568 in the state.

Checks by Daily Trust revealed that NNPC stations at Ikeja, Ifako Ijaiye, Lagos Island, and other areas had stopped dispensing the product; while the few stations dispensing the product had increased their price to between N600 and N650 from the initial rate of between N568 and N585.

Motorists, who endured long hours to get the product at high rate, lamented that the scarcity had compounded the challenges bedeviling the country.

A transporter, Joseph Edet-Effiong, said he spent almost two hours before getting the product so that he could work.

“Most of the filling stations are closed and the ones selling have increased the price,” he said.

“I don’t know where we are going. We cannot even make any savings from this work. We can’t increase the fare because passengers are not willing to pay; they now prefer to trek. There are few passengers on the roads,” he added.

A motorist, Zaccheaus Oyekan, said the arbitrary hike in the price of petrol would adversely affect the economy and the well-being of the people.

“Some (filling stations) are still selling at N580+ but as I got here now, they increased their own to N600.  I want the government to help us solve all these issues because we are not benefiting from this matter as we use all our income to buy fuel. The government should help reduce the price so that everybody can benefit and be happy,” he said.

A fuel attendant, who simply gave his name as Kehinde, said they acted based on a directive from their supervisor.

“The supervisor instructed us on the price to fix, our job is to sell. However, he said the company can no longer sell at the old rate because it is no longer sustainable,” he said.

Marketers speak on scarcity

The Major Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) blamed the scarcity on rise in dollars, bad roads and hoarding of fuel.

The Executive Secretary of MOMAN, Clement Isong, who spoke to our correspondent on phone, said tanker drivers and some dealers no longer find the business attractive because of the problems confronting the sector.

He listed the problems as including bad roads linking the South and the North, the free fall of the naira.

Isong also said that some marketers, in anticipation of shortage of the product, started to hoard petrol.

“The roads from the South to the North are in a terrible state and truck owners have incurred huge financial losses as a result of accidents.”

According to him, marketers cannot access dollars from the official window.

He said this had left its members with no other choice but to source for it at the black market

“The dollar has crossed the N1000 threshold and members can’t get it from the official window. The unstable nature of the naira has continued to add more and more pressure on the business.

“Those who have products have also resulted in hoarding in anticipation that there will be scarcity. This is also one factor.”

Also speaking to Daily Trust, the leader of the Independent Petroleum Marketers’ Association (IPMAN), Debo Ahmed, blamed the scarcity on supply disruption.

He noted that the NNPCL remains the sole importer of refined petroleum products.

He said the only solution is for the country to begin to refine locally for domestic consumption.

“Hopefully when the Dangote Refinery begins production in December, we will have some respite,” he said.

Another major marketer, who spoke with our correspondent on the condition of anonymity, said: “You know what the dollar is talking about and don’t forget everything we are paying for is in dollars.

“When it is not available, you should know that it is a problem for us as marketers. Thank God you have also highlighted the point here.”

A reliable source at the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) yesterday said independent marketers had, at a meeting with the regulator, urged the federal government to allow access to the dollar at the official market rate to compete with the NNPCL in fuel importation. 

The source said: “The marketers had stated that they operate at a loss at the current fuel pump price for petrol fixed by the federal government.

“The marketers, during the meeting, said NNPC is the only company importing fuel into the country even though the government has given licences to private companies. They said NNPC has access to the dollar at the official rate, but they don’t as the I&E window is not sufficient to meet the current demand in the country, as such, they can’t compete with the NNPCL.

“They added that the freight cost is another issue that needed attention as the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) receives payment in dollar as well as NIMASA.” 

The source said the Group Chief Executive Officer of the NNPCL, Mele Kyari, while responding to the issues raised, said it was not possible for the marketers to have access to dollars at an official rate as that would defeat the government’s aim to end different price regime for the dollar in the country. 

The source said Kyari assured the marketers that they would “recoup their profit from the current pump price and the dollar. He admitted that this would be little but he assured that by the first quarter of 2024, the naira will be stabilized to have a single official rate in the country.

“Kyari also assured the availability of petrol in its depot which he said can take care of Nigerians consumption for thirty days as required by law.”

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