BARELY a week after the petroleum tanker drivers-induced fuel scarcity ended, long queues yesterday emerged at filling stations in some states of the federation. The development was, however, attributed to oil marketers rationing the products to retail outlets at the depots.
This rationing has led to drop in product allocations at both the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and independent fuel depots in Lagos and Ogun states.
Long queues were noticed at several filling stations in Lagos metropolis yesterday.
The rationing, The Guardian learnt, may not be unconnected with the drop in fuel importation by the Pipeline and Product Marketing Company (PPMC).
It was learnt that some major fuel marketing companies were involved in the rationing process, including the African Petroleum (AP) and Total. These marketers ordinarily load about 80 to 85 trucks per day, but the eventual circumstance has reduced this to maximum of 20 trucks since last week.
The product shortage has begun to take toll on motorists that spent most of their time yesterday searching for fuel.
The Zonal Secretary of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD), an arm of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Mr. Tokunbo Korodo, said the scarcity was caused by the pathetic state of the nation’s four refineries and pipeline vandalism, among others.
Korodo said the situation was beyond his members’ control, as only three out of the 27 depots in the country had fuel.
The depots, he said, include the Ejigbo, Lagos, Mosimi in Ogun State and Ibadan in Oyo State, hence the pressure on Lagos, which has the largest capacity.
An industry source said although actual figures were hard to come by, available information confirmed a drop in NNPC’s supply to marketers.
"Before now, marketers received fuel from PPMC every other two days, but now, they go five days before fresh supplies are received and at reduced volume."
In Osun State, the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) has risen to N150 in the black market.
The scarcity, which entered its third day yesterday, saw commuters in the state trekking from one place to the other.
Long queues were noticed in a few filling stations that sold petrol while operators of black market made brisk business selling a litre at N150.
Except for the NNPC Mega Station and AP filling station, Okefia, most outlets in Osogbo, the state capital, were shut.
At the NNPC Mega Station located along Ring Road area of the state capital, there was about a two-kilometre queue that extended from the premises to the Police Officers’ Mess in Government Reserved Area (GRA), Osogbo.
From Ilesha to Ikirun, Ikire, Gbongan, Ile-Ife, Okuku, Ode-Omu the situation was the same.
Also, commuters were stranded in Ibadan and its environs yesterday, as the fuel crisis hit the state capital, forcing residents to trek to their destination while queues resurfaced at the filling stations.
The few filling stations that opened for business were besieged by motorists, who scampered to gain entry into them. This hindered the free-flow of traffic in the affected areas.
Operators of the stations seized the opportunity of the scarcity to make quick money as they sold a litre of fuel for N100 instead of the usual N65.
Black market operators also made brisk business as they hawk the product along Sabo-Jemibewon Road in jerry cans at between N550 and N600.
Most of the filling stations visited by The Guardian were either not selling to customers or dispensing the product at exorbitant prices.
It was also alleged that some of the major marketers used the cover of darkness to sell the products to some desperate motorists.
Although N65 was seen on their fuel metres, attendants sold fuel above the stipulated price.
Fuel scarcity in Kaduna and other parts of the Northern states worsened yesterday, as several civil servants and traders were stranded at bus stops
Besides, residents of Kaduna are now at the mercies of commercial bus drivers and cyclists, who had jerked up their fares by over 100 per cent.
The scarcity has also heightened as black marketers now make brisk business, selling four litres for about N1,500.
Transport fares from Nassarawa to Central Market has been jerked from N40 to N80 while from Sabo to Central Market, the fare has increased from N50 to N100.