For the umpteenth time within nine months of the current administration’s time in office, Nigerians have been faced with the reoccurring headache of fuel scarcity. The queues at the fuel stations across the country have refused to disappear; they however abate some times. Fuel consumers are left to spend hours on the queues and grapple with the differential high rates of the product.  The independent marketers had raised concerns that the NNPC, which has about 85 per cent of fuel import allocation, also gets the dollar at the official rate of N196 -$1 against the unofficial exchange rate of over N370 to $1 at the free market, a situation they say is monopolistic in nature.  The nation’s Petroleum Product Price Regulatory Agency, PPRA puts the official pump price of petrol at N86 in government owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC stations , while it gave the independent marketers a directive to sell the product at any price not more than N86:50. But the product is still sold between the regulated N86.50 and N110 at the private stations across the oil rich nation. The private marketers say they cannot sell the product at the regulated price due to the high exchange rate of the dollar to the Naira  and the cost of transportation.  The refusal of some of the marketers to invest in the business which they say is not profitable and anti investment has put more pressure on the insufficient NNPC mega stations and forcing the consumers to buy the product at exorbitant rates in the privately owned stations, creating the impression that the nation is yet to witness another fuel scarcity.  The NNPC in a statement on Monday doused the tension when it announced the deployment of additional trucks of petrol to arrest the emerging fuel queues in the country including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and Lagos.  The corporation explained that it has increased the fuel truck- out to major cities like Abuja and environs from the usual average of 160 trucks per day to 250 trucks (8.25 million litres) to arrest the lull. In a statement signed by the NNPC’s Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Ohi Alegbe, the corporation urged members of the public to refrain from all forms of hoarding, diversion and panic buying of petroleum products. The Corporation assured the public of the availability of petrol to meet the demand of consumers in Abuja and beyond. “Apart from the additional injection of volumes of petrol into the market, the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company, PPMC has stepped up their monitoring of  fuel stations to ensure strict compliance with laid down rules and regulations on the sales and distribution of petroleum products,’’ Alegbe said in the statement.  The NNPC had announced plans to build 109 new mega stations in all the Senatorial districts of the federation to phase-out fuel scarcity.

Ogie Omelegie
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