Fuel Scarcity Worsens, Black Market Booms At N300/litre

The approved pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, is N165/litre.

Petrol is now selling N300/litre at the black market according to a report by Punch on Tuesday.

This is as a result of biting fuel scarcity in Lagos, the Federal Capital Territory and other parts of the country.

The report added that motorists also spend hours at filling stations just to buy fuel.

However, oil marketers say the solution to the worsening fuel queues across the country is for the Federal Government to approve an increase in the pump price of the commodity.

Although some marketers had already raised the price of fuel in their outlets, they admitted that the move had not been approved by the government, noting that dealers could be sanctioned for selling above the regulated rate.

The approved pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, is N165/litre, but marketers are currently kicking against this rate, saying that it is no longer sustainable going by the global crisis in the energy sector.

A retail outlet located in the Kubwa Village Market, Abuja, dispensed petrol at N195/litre to motorists and still had queues.

Heavy fuel queues were seen in the few filling stations that sold petrol at the approved rate on Tuesday. Some of them included: the NNPC close to Gwarimpa on the Zuba-Kubwa expressway, Total filling station opposite the headquarters of NNPC, Nipco filling station on Zuba expressway, among others.

“The solution to this crisis is to increase petrol price and have it approved because the cost of diesel used in transporting these products to retail stations has risen from about N250/litre a few months ago to around N850/litre currently,” the Deputy National President, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Zarma Mustapha, told one of our correspondents.

The IPMAN official explained that the widespread queues in Nigeria were related to the global energy crisis that had dragged on for about four months since the Ukraine/Russia war started.

“Because of that crisis, the prices of crude have increased astronomically and Russia, being the largest producer of diesel globally, is inaccessible. So, people are not having access to purchase diesel, knowing full well that our refineries are not working,” Mustapha stated.

He added, “We solely depend on imported diesel,so based on that, the scarcity of diesel has become worse, which is the major product we use in transporting fuel to filling stations.

“The marketers have engaged the government in trying to see how best we can cushion the effects of the rise in diesel price. But, unfortunately, the price has continued to rise and based on that the government made an upward review of the bridging claims.”

He noted that despite the little upward reviews of the bridging rates in May and June this year, the adjustments were still not enough to cover the cost of transporting products.

Mustapha, however, stated that marketers were engaging the Federal Government, adding that it had been confirmed that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited had enough stock.

The spokesperson for NNPC, Garba-Deen Mohammed, told our correspondent that the national oil firm was working out something with respect to the development and promised to revert. He, however, had yet to revert up till the time this story was filed in.

Motorists lament 100% fare hike

This came as passengers in Lagos expressed concern over the hike in transport fares as a result of fuel scarcity in the state.

One of our correspondents observed the situation in some parts of the state and gathered that transport fares had increased by 100 per cent in most parts of Lagos.

Moradekemi Kolawole, a commercial bus passenger, said, “This is too much. You can’t believe that instead of the usual N200 from Ogba to Ikeja, I paid N400. Now I’m going to Berger and the drivers are saying it is N300 instead of N150.”

Another passenger, who only identified himself as Dele, said,  “I came in from Magboro to Secretariat today and I am now going back. I have already spent N800. And before now,  it was just N400.”

A commercial bus driver, Dimeji Olaiya, explained that the scarcity of fuel had led to the increase in transport fares and stated that the situation might be worse in the next few days.

“This is not the first time we are experiencing this. Yesterday, I got to the filling station around 6 pm and left around 10:30 pm and I couldn’t still get petrol at the normal price. So, how do you expect me to carry passengers at the normal price? It is not going to work,” he said.

Marketers insist on price increase, fuel stations adjust pumps, hoard products.

It was also observed that some filling stations began to hoard products as those that dispensed petrol had to increase the price of the commodity in Lagos.

Also, the Nigeria Customs Service of FOU Zone A, Ikeja, dispensed auctioned petroleum products at higher prices.

It was gathered that petrol was sold to buyers at the operational warehouse of the unit on Monday.

One of Punch correspondents, who visited the location on Tuesday morning and posed as a buyer, was told that the product was no longer available.

A female trader close to the warehouse, who bought the product and resold it on the black market, told The PUNCH that “the fuel won’t be available again until next Monday. Everything has been sold yesterday. They sell to people only on Mondays.”

When Punch reporter insisted on waiting to see if the products would be dispensed, the female trader said he should not waste his time, as she would not sell until the following Monday.

Another lady, simply identified as Joy, said, “If you had come yesterday, you would have got fuel. People were many yesterday, as they sold from around 8 am to 10 am. If you want to come around next Monday, you have to arrive early to register your name. The officers sell to people who register their names. And once you do that, you will have to wait for a while before they start to call names.”

The PUNCH learnt that the business had been on for a long time and not as a result of the fuel scarcity. Like other contrabands, seized petroleum products are brought to the warehouse and sold at auctioned prices.

Joy told The PUNCH that a keg of 25 litres was usually sold at N3,000, but the price was hiked to N4,000 when it was sold on Monday.

Commuters were left stranded in various parts of Lagos due to the fuel scarcity and commercial bus drivers used the opportunity to increase transport fares.

At Jakande Estate, passengers were made to pay N300 to Oshodi, compared to the normal fare of between N150 and N200. From Oshodi to Obalende, passengers paid N500, compared to the usual fare of between N300 to N400 when there was no fuel scarcity.

At Obalende, many commuters who were either heading for Falomo, Lekki, Victoria Island or the Ajah axis of the state were seen stranded at various bus stops.

Some of the commuters who eventually got vehicles to their destinations had to pay between N500 to N700 to Lekki and Ajah, compared to the usual price of N200 for Lekki passengers and N400 for Ajah passengers.

A commuter, who simply identified himself as Seun, noted that even before the fuel scarcity, commercial buses had been collecting N500 to Yaba from Obalende, compared to the normal price of N200 in the evenings.

Seun said, “I pray I am able to get to Obalende by 4 pm today because I don’t know how much they will charge, with the way they are carrying passengers to Lekki, for N500.”

Black market players took advantage of the fuel scarcity, selling as high as N300/litre in Lagos, Abuja, Nasarawa and other states.

“There is no fuel at all. So, we have to buy from black marketers for N300/litre,” one of the conductors plying Cele to Berger, Mowe, and Ibafo in Lagos told one of our correspondents on Tuesday.

Petrol is yet to be deregulated and the current official price puts the product at between N162 and N165/litre.

Independent marketers, who started implementing a new price unapproved regime of between N170 to N190/litre at the weekend, insisted on Monday that it would be difficult for them to sell at the official pump price.

National Operations Controller, South-West, IPMAN, Mike Osatuyi, had told The PUNCH in a telephone interview that the scarcity was no fault of oil marketers, adding that they could no longer sell at N165/litre.

“It is what they give us that we will sell. And we’ve had a short supply for some days now. It is a monopolistic market because NNPC is the only supplier. Currently, our members buy at N164 – N165/litre. How much are we expected to sell after adding transportation costs?” he asked.

“Moreover, the high price of diesel, which currently stands at N820/litre, has compelled us to spend as much as N500,000 and N800,000 to take a tanker of the product from Lagos and Ibadan,” he added.

The association had also, in a press statement on Monday, said its members could no longer sell below N180/litre.

The IPMAN, in a statement by its Lagos State Depot Secretary, Akeem Balogun, said, “With the current price, there is no way we can sell less than N180/litre. Members are hereby advised to sell at a sustainable price within their environment. Just make sure that the price is on your pump.

“Kindly contact the secretariat should you have any authority challenging your operations.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *