Vanguard (Lagos)

3 March 2014

Nigeria: Fuel Scarcity Worsens in Lagos

THE fuel scarcity in Lagos worsened, over the weekend, as only a handful of petrol stations were seen selling the commodity in some areas of the state.

Efforts to get the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, to comment on the worsening fuel situation proved abortive, as the spokesperson for the DPR, Mr. Paul Osu, refused to respond to text messages sent to his phone, yesterday.

The DPR's only response to the scarcity was when its officials embarked on an enforcement drive two weeks ago, a development which vehicle owners, said helped a bit in salvaging the situation, as a few petrol stations where made to re open for fear of being closed.

The DPR failed to step up the enforcement activity after that action it carried out with some journalists, giving the marketers a free hand to carry out their nefarious activities with impunity, leading to the suffering and hardship Nigerians are currently experiencing.

All the petrol stations along the Apapa Oshodi expressway were closed to vehicles, while a few, though shut, were seen selling fuel to individuals in jerry cans.

Along Lawanson Road, Surulere, only Oando filling station, near Ojuelegba was seen selling the products to both vehicles and individuals in containers, a development which caused a major gridlock along the ever busy road.

All other filling stations along Lawanson Road, such as Total, Mobil, Conoil, among others, were closed.

Mobil, the only filling station along Ijesha road was shut, but residents told Vanguard that they open occasionally to sell only to individuals with containers.

All other petrol stations across Surulere were closed, with a few seen dispensing to jerry cans.

However, the scarcity has given rise to black market activities, with a number of youths, standing in front of closed petrol stations, beckoning to vehicle owners, trying to sell the products stored in various sizes of plastic containers.

One of the youths told Vanguard that he was selling a five litre container of fuel for N1,000.

A visit to the tank farms at Ibafon, along the Apapa Oshodi Expressway, throughout last week, saw tankers leaving the depots with the commodity, while a few others were on the queues, which almost stretched down to Mile 2, causing serious gridlock on the road.

Relatedly, the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC said yesterday that the fuel scarcity noticed in Lagos and some parts of the country was artificially induced and has commenced fresh measures to halt it.

Acting Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of NNPC, Dr. Omar Farouk Ibrahim in a statement yesterday said the NNPC in conjunction with the Department of Petroleum Resources, and the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, will commence monitoring of fuel stations in Lagos and its environs as well as any other state to checkmate the incidence of hoarding and panic buying of fuel .

Long fuel queues have also returned to filling stations in Yenagoa and its environs as fuel scarcity bites harder in the predominantly riverine state.

Virtually all the retail outlets in town have since closed shop due to non availability of fuel, a development that has forced most car owners to park their vehicles at home and make do with public transport.

Our correspondent who went round the capital city observed that only the NNPC mega filling station along the Sani Abacha expressway, was dispensing fuel at the official N97 pump price.

Meanwhile, the Warri branch of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, blamed the current fuel scarcity in Delta on panic buying.

The branch's Chairman, Akpos Edafevwotu told journalists in Warri yesterday that there is enough fuel at the Warri Depot of the Petroleum Procuts Marketing Company, PPMC, to cater for the people of the state and its surroundings.

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