The scarcity of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), popularly called petrol, intensified yesterday in Lagos and other states in South West as private depots failed to sell at the approved price.
Investigation by our correspondent revealed that some privately-owned petrol stations in Lagos, Ogun and Oyo had no fuel to dispense to customers. Only a few petrol stations owned by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited and some oil majors were seen dispensing the oil to buyers.
The situation in some of the NNPC stations was chaotic as motorists and other customers struggled to buy petrol.
Also, it was observed that some of the attendants made brisk business by insisting on tips before they dispensed the product for those with jerry cans. The President of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Alhaji Debo Ahmed, in an interview with our correspondent said that the scarcity was caused by short supply of petrol by NNPC. Ahmed said that some of the private depots in South West had no petrol, alleging that NNPC had not been supplying directly to independent marketers any more.
The president alleged that NNPC now only supplies to private depot owners. Ahmed said that NNPC claimed that they could not supply the product to independent marketers because of vandalism of government pipelines.
Also, he stressed that they were to buy the product from private depots at government controlled price, but alleged that the private depots refused to sell the product at government controlled price. Ahmed added that the product from the private depot owners was being sold between N158 and N160 per litre.
Ahmed said: “The scarcity of petrol in Lagos and other parts of the country is because of lack of supplies. There is not enough fuel at the depots. A lot of the depots are not having fuel. We are only using the private depots now.
We are not using the government depots. NNPC sells to the private depots, private depots sell to us. So, many of the private depots do not have fuel. That is why we are having shortages and queues in many of these areas.
“When the government imports, they pump to private depots but unfortunately, they have not been pumping. They said they cannot pump because of oil vandalisation. What they do is to give to private depots to supply us at a controlled price but the private depots are not supplying us at the control price. They supply about N158, N160 per litre.”
According to Ahmed: “Before you consider the cost of transportation and you know because of the high cost of diesel, transportation has increased. So the whole thing boils down to an independent marketer not being able to sell at the price stipulated by the government.
Expenses on loading and transportation depend on depot to depot. If south are made to sell at about N180, N190, in Ilorin and environs, we will sell at N190 because the high cost of transportation has made diesel very expensive.
“The whole thing lies with the government. The government is the importer of PMS essentially. Government should improve on supplies.
They should pump more so that they can meet up with the demand.” Efforts to contact Garba Deen Muhammad, the spokesman of the NNPC on the situation were abortive last night as his mobile phone was switched off.
However, a member of the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), who declined to be named, confirmed that the problem was as a result of short supply. He said that there would be improvement in petrol supply to the stations, noting that there had been an increase in the supply of the product to some of the depots over the weekend.
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