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Fuel scarcity threatens Sallah celebration

…as marketers, NNPC outlets defy FG’s order

Less than one week to a major Muslim festival, motorists and business owners in Lagos State and Abuja are counting their losses in man-hour and extra financial commitment due to gradual return of queues at petrol filling stations. Findings by New Telegraph revealed that apart from drop in supply of the product to retail outlets, the failure of marketers to sell at the Federal Government regulated price of N165 is also compelling some motorists to queue at the few outlets dispensing at the official price.

Some filling station attendants, who spoke with our correspondent on the development, said the situation was beyond them, saying that receiving supply in the last two weeks had not been easy. While the situation in the Federal Capital Territory appears to be defying immediate solutions, that of Lagos is gradually taking similar position as commercial drivers have started increasing transport fares across the metropolis.

Recall that the Petroleum Pipeline Marketing Company (PPMC) had reached an agreement with retailers of PMS for direct supply of the product to fuel stations in strategic locations in the country, especially Lagos and Abuja. Despite the worrisome development, the Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) and Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigerian (IPMAN) insist that an agreement had been reached to ensure petrol is sold at the approved N165 per litre price. Further investigation revealed that some members of the Independent Petroleum Markers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and retail outlets belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited had defied Federal Government’s directive that Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) popularly called petrol should not be sold above N165 per litre. The NMDRA had warned marketers not to sell above governmentregulated prices.

NMDRA Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Farouk Ahmed, had cautioned marketers against engaging in unwholesome practices that are inimical to the smooth supply of petroleum. He also directed all operational offices of the authority across the nation to ensure that all loading depots and retail outlets were dispensing petroleum at only the approved price. He assured the general public that the price of petrol had not been changed and that the Federal Government had no intention of an upward adjustment of the price at the moment.

It was also learnt that some retailers in the South-South and South- East sell petrol above the government regulated rate of N165 per litre. It was found out that in Benin areas, petrol is being sold for N175 to N180 per litre. Even a retail outlet of the NNPC sold at N175 per litre. Also in Aba, a litre of petrol is sold for N180 while at Okpala, in Ngor Okpala Local Government Area of Imo State, it is being sold for N190 per litre. An attendant at one of the petrol stations said they sold above the government- regulated price because of the high cost of transporting petrol from the depots in Lagos to their station.

IPMAN spokesman, Osatuyi, said his members bought the product from members of the Products Marketers Association of Nigeria at prices higher than the government-regulated price of N165 per litre. He also said the high exchange rate was another contributory factor, adding that they source foreign exchange from black market at a higher rate. Osatuyi said: “Go and investigate how much they are buying from the private depots and you will know. Go and investigate how much DAPMANi is selling to us. We are selling at that price because we are not selling at the official price.” A member of DAPPMAN, who preferred not to be named, said their members procured the product at a higher amount than before. She added that their members ran other operational costs which have gone up. She said: “In January 2022, marketers were getting vessels from even NNPC each at about $27,000 to $28,000 per day.

As of today, the same vessel is going for $38,000, $42,000 and $50,000 depending on whether it is Lagos, Calabar or Port Harcourt. “The exchange rate used is not the Central Bank of Nigeria rate. It is the black market rate. On the template, it is the CBN rate that is there but marketers pay through black market. Who bears the cost of that difference? “We run our depot with the high cost of energy. All of us our Nigerians some know what power challenge we are facing. I can name at least 10 depots that do not have connection to national grid at all. If you want to come to the office, you put on generator. If you want to do anything, you run the generator and this is diesel.

Diesel as we all know, the price has this gone to the roof.” She added: “If IPMAN or transport workers make noise, the federal government will quickly give them a solution. But if DAPMAN makes noise, the government will not listen to us, we have had not one, not two meetings with them, we have written severally to them but nobody is listening to us. So who continues to bear the cost?”

 

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