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Black Market Operators Make Brisk Business as Petrol Scarcity Lingers in Lagos, Other States

The scarcity appears to have defied all measures put forward by the NNPC.

The current nation-wide scarcity of petrol which has been on for over month has put black marketers in a profitable mode as they are now making brisk business by cashing in on the lapses created in the product’s distribution and supply system.
The petrol scarcity appears to have defied all measures put forward by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC), the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) and the marketing companies.
The pump price of petrol has been on the increase both at the filling stations and at the black markets with many Nigerians desperately in search of petrol to buy.
THISDAY’s findings Thursday night showed that the pump prices of petrol at filling stations now sells between N200 and N300 per litre in Lagos, Abuja, Umuahia, the entire Southwest, Owerri and Uyo.
At the black market, however, the findings showed that the product sells for between N350 and N480 per litre at Ajah and Victoria Island, and N450 at Ejigbo and other cities in Lagos, while it was N350 in Owerri and Umuahia yesterday.
There is projection that it could get higher in the coming days and worsen during yuletide period.
THISDAY had reported last Friday that the oil marketing companies, who had formed cartels, were allegedly rationing the days of selling petrol among and preferring to sell to black marketers that users.
The situation had led to the growth in the number of black marketers springing up from every corner, taking advantage of the situation and further worsening the petrol scarcity currently rocking many states and cities.
The petrol scarcity is now having adverse effects on the populace as the scarcity and hike in the price of the product has led to an increase in transport fares by 200 per cent, thus pushing the prices of some consumer goods higher.
Amid the crisis, stakeholders in the petrol supply and disruption system have blamed the ugly situation on a number of factors including the scarcity of foreign exchange, the rise in the price of crude oil, high operational and agency charges and the alleged hoarding of the product by the NNPC and some marketers.
Other factors, according to them are the monopoly of the NNPC as the sole importer of petrol, which has contributed to the abuses and arbitrage in the system, the meagre margins to marketers, and the subsidy that has boosted smuggling of the imported petrol to other neighbouring countries where petrol is sold higher.  
The NNPC had said the burden of shouldering subsidy of 60 million litres of petrol every day with the challenge of having a significant part of that diverted through smuggling had become too heavy for it carry, saying goverment cannot continue with fuel subsidy.
“Consequently, marketers and the general public are advised to avoid panic buying, diversion of products, and hoarding. In keeping with the authority’s responsibilities as outlined in the Petroleum Industry Act, the authority assures the public that it would continue to monitor the supply and distribution of all petroleum products nationwide especially during this holiday season”, NMDPRA said.
“How can we continue to import 60 million litres of petrol daily and keep subsidising it, while millions of litres are either diverted or cannot be accounted for? The burden is too much,” the company reportedly said unofficially.

Peter Uzoho

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