The scarcity of petrol is yet to end in Abuja just as some tanker drivers blame persistent gridlock in Lokoja, Kogi State.
According to a survey by Daily Trust yesterday, while more fuel stations are now dispensing petroleum products, there are still visible queues over one week after the petrol scarcity began.
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The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, NMDPRA, had blamed the flood taking over highways in Lokoja for the scarcity. The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd assured of consistent supply of over 20 days.
Speaking yesterday, some tanker drivers noted that the situation has not abated along the Lokoja to Abuja highway.
“The situation has not ended but more tankers are plying the route from Lagos. Tankers spend over eight hours to pass through Koton Karfe where the river overflowed,” said Musa Garba, a tanker driver.
Also speaking, an official of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, northern region, Mohammed Iliyasu, said it could take two weeks for normalcy in retailing petroleum products.
Iliyasu said “We are passing through Benue and now from Bida road because they just barely finished fixing the bad portion. So gradually, things are improving and in two weeks or so, it will be okay.”
Akin Kolade, a tanker driver discharging product at a station in Abuja, said it took him hours to scale through traffic at Lokoja.
“It is better than before but we still spend over seven hours crossing Koton Karfe. Because of the water, it is now a single lane and road safety ensures only few vehicles pass at a time to avoid a crash on the narrow road.”
Meanwhile as the scarcity continues, some motorists said they have to buy petrol from stations selling at N200 to N220 per litre.
Gabriel Fawole said he got the product at nearby Nasarawa State at N220/l without a queue.
Aliyu Hassan said he gets petrol from some of these stations and sells at black market price of N3500 for a 10-litre keg which is N350/l in Abuja.
When contacted, the spokesman for NMDPRA, Appolo Kimchi, said the scarcity situation was gradually improving.
“Customer care is working to ensure more trucks load petrol Abuja. It is even improving by the day and you will see a reduction,” Mr Kimchi said over the telephone.
According to NMDPRA, daily petrol stock report for Sunday, Nigeria has 1.383 billion litres of petrol capable of lasting for 22 days. Out of this, the volume on ground can last for 12 days while about 10 days’ supply has arrived at the ports.