The alleged rationing of the days of selling petrol among some petroleum products marketers who have formed cartels has worsened the petrol scarcity currently rocking Lagos, Abuja and other cities in the country, THISDAY learnt yesterday.
THISDAY gathered that the marketing companies had through their umbrella associations allegedly put the secret rationing rule that ensures that members sell petrol on the days allocated to them.
According to a source who revealed this to THISDAY, to ensure compliance to the rule, the marketers, whose turn it is not to sell on a particular date resort to hoarding the product in the day time while selling to black marketers at night and above approved price.
“Any filling station that is not selling is just obeying what they have agreed because anyone that disobeys, their leaders will deal with him. That’s why you see queues in one filling station, while another is closed.
“The person (the black marketer) that supplies me said they are the ones having fuel now because they are sure of buying from the filling stations anytime in the night when nobody is watching,” the source who pleaded to remain anonymous said.
He further said his supplier told him that the marketing companies said they were no longer coping with the government regulated price and that since they can’t fight the government, they must find a way to survive.
The situation has resulted to the hike in the pump price of petrol to about N250 to N300 per litre in some filling stations in Lagos, and has also led to the increase in transport fares by over 200 per cent in the nation’s commercial nerve centre.
For instance, the fare for commuting from Egbeda to Oshodi is now N600 as against N300 being charged before while commuting from Ikotun to CMS now takes N1500 as against N500 charged few months ago.
Consequently, many commuters are now having to pay through their noses to go to wherever they want to go even with the drop in the purchasing power of average Nigerians.
Some of the filling stations that were shut yesterday included the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) filling station at Sobo Bus Stop, Egbeda; AP filling station at Ikotun Roundabout, First Royal filling station, Idimu Road, among several others.
The scarcity of petrol and long queues have persisted despite the previous assurances by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) and some of the marketers.
Efforts to get reaction of the marketers through their associations proved abortive as the Executive Secretary of the Deport and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN), Mr. Olufemi Adewole; and the Chairman of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Mr. Olumide Adeosun refused to take their calls as of the time of filling in this report.
However, Adewole had told journalists a few days ago in Lagos, that the difficulty being experienced in the products distribution system was partly due the high cost of foreign exchange and the renting of Daughter vessels.
Adewole had said, “We have costs that must be recovered. We have explained to the public and we have explained to government. Foreign exchange impact on our business is quite high.
“Early this year, we were chartering vessels for our operations at the rate of $25000 to $35000. Exchange rate at that time was $385 to $1. Today, we are chartering vessels at $70000 per day. Exchange rare has gone down to probably about N740 few days ago. So somebody has to take these costs.
“We employed Nigerians, we are Nigerians and we are patriotic Nigerians. These businesses were set up by investors not solely to make profit but they must make profit otherwise the businesses will collapse and even the Nigerians who are presently paying taxes to government will be out of job.
“So any cost that a marketer incurs in the process of bringing the product to you at the retail outlet has to be recovered and that is what we are saying.”
He had assured Nigerians that there would be adequate fuel because NNPC had promised them that there would be adequate fuel during Christmas, New Year and beyond.
According to the DAPPMAN Executive Secretary, “It makes no sense for any marketer to have products and refuses to sell. One thing we can assure you is this: whatever any marketer has, whatever any marketer receives from NNPC being the sole supplier to the country, we will sell it to the public and make sure you get it. So if we don’t have it, we can’t sell what we don’t have.”