Daily Trust (Abuja)

Nigeria: Fuel Scarcity Hits Abuja, Lagos, Others

Motorists in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and its environs were confronted with another bout of fuel scarcity over the weekend as vehicular queues recoiled back to the fuel stations.

The queues started manifesting on Friday in Abuja metropolis and satellite towns. Though the it cause of the current scarcity was not immediately known, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) told Daily Trust yesterday that normal fuel supply had commenced. Virtually all filling stations - Oando, Texaco, Total and Independent filling stations were all jam packed with queues which extended to the main roads causing traffic obstruction.

Black maketers take advantage of the scarcity to make brisk business. Four litre of petrol goes for as high as N600 as against the pump price which ordinarily would have be N260.

But motorists who spoke with Daily Trust yesterday evening said the queues were easing off. According to Abdulraham Akpata, a staff of JAMB except NNPC Mega station that still had long queues which he attributed to reduction its pump prices, queues had thinned down in most stations.

An official of Conoil filing station Jabbi said they have been experiencing this for over a month now "it is on and off, we cannot say what is exactly responsible for it. But I am hoping that we get product tomorrow"

Colin Adams, a task force officer with the Nigerian Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), said "the scarcity is affecting us; most of our drivers are queuing up in filing station waiting for fuel. As at yesterday, it is only NNPC and few other stations that has fuel.

"Private vehicles who are able to get fuel because they have money to bribe the station attendants are taking our passengers from us. Because of the scarcity, few drivers who are able to get fuel had to increase transport fare to make up the money they spend at the filling stations. Before now, we used to collect N80,00 from Jabbi to Suleija, but now, we collect N100,00. Most of our drivers are not doing anything now because of the scarcity. "We asked the conoil manager what was responsible for the scarcity and he only told us that their fuel is on the way coming" he said.

Also in Lagos state, fuel scarcity bites harder over the weekend as most filing stations ran out of stock. Few others that had stock according to Daily Trust in investigation, jerked up their price to N73 and N75 per litre.

Daily Trust gathered that the current scarcity is not unconnected with the row between NNPC and the Nigeria Port Authority over issues bordering on outstanding debts.

However the spokesperson, Dr. Levi Ajuonoma stated yesterday in a telephone conversation with Daily Trust that Petroleum Price Marketing Company (PPMC) has made products available assuring that "there is a product in Suleja right now as I am talking to you".

He confirmed that the Corporation noticed the fuel queues yesterday and promptly urged increase in product supply.

Meanwhile NNPC Group Managing Director, Engr. Funsho Kupolokun, admitted at the weekend that although NNPC has positively touched the lives of Nigerians, all has not been smooth sailing for the corporation.

He called for support of the ongoing reforms in the corporation to move it to a greater height.

He made the call on Saturday at the 2004 and 2005 NNPC long service/GMD's Merit Awards ceremony held at the NNPC Towers, Abuja. He was represented by Mr. I.D.Waziri, Group Executive Director, Corporate Services of the corporation.

"Along the line, we relaxed and started celebrating too soon. Indiscipline, ineptitude, lack of focus and dishonesty became the order of the day, to the point of NNPC becoming an embarrassment to the generality of its stakeholders in its inability of providing the most basic of services expected of her. We should not forget in a hurry the era of product scarcity, black markets, smelly and off spec products, kerosene explosion. We continue to face significant challenges of vandalisation/ sabotage, theft of crude and products, rusted and obsolete assets," he said.

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