26 March 2016, Lagos – The ongoing nationwide fuel scarcity seems to have become worsened as many Nigerians marked the Good Friday at filling stations trying to buy petrol.
Christians all over the country celebrated the Passion of Christ, also known as Good Friday, yesterday.
In many parts of the country, long queues of motorists dotted a few filling stations that were selling petrol, with the motorists complaining that the scarcity was biting harder on them.
Many of them, who spoke to our correspondents at about 2.30pm, said they had been queuing at the filling stations since 5am on Friday.
A bank worker, who simply gave his name as Thompson, told one of our correspondents at a filling station in Egbeda area of Lagos State that he had been moving from one filling station to the other with the hope of getting petrol since he closed at work on Thursday evening.
He, alongside other motorists, said the purpose for which Friday was declared public holiday was defeated because they had spent the greater part of the day at filling stations trying to buy fuel.
One of them, Mr. Tayo Olaniyan, said he had been to five different filling stations to buy petrol and that none of them had fuel.
Olaniyan said, “Even some of the fuel stations that used to have fuel before now no longer have. It seems the situation has gone worse after the minister’s statement.”
A motorist in a queue to buy petrol at an NNPC station along Ogunnusi Road, Ikeja, Lagos, Mr. Gbenga Adewole, said he had to get to the station at about 5am on Friday to stand a good chance of getting the product.
“Since today is public holiday, I decided to get here very early and despite that, I still met a lot of vehicles here,” he said.
Also, on the Otedola Estate and Berger ends of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Mobil, Capital Oil and Oando filling stations had long queues of desperate motorists and other customers, which spilled onto the road and caused gridlock.
There were fewer queues in most filling stations along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, particularly at Ibafo, Asese and Arepo areas in Ogun State, but it was observed that the filling stations sold petrol for N150 per litre as against the approved N86.5 pump price.
In Kwara State, hundreds of motorists decried the worsening fuel scarcity. The motorists told one of our correspondents at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation mega-station at Asa Dam, Ilorin, that they had spent over eight hours in the queue hoping to buy fuel, when they should be enjoying their public holiday with their families.
One of the motorists, Alhaji Kale Abdullahi, said he had stayed at the petrol station from 6am till 2.30pm trying to see if he could buy petrol.
Another motorist, Alhaji Salmatu Ajayi, said she had hoped to take her children to amusement park and visit some family members since Friday was public holiday, but the many hours spent at a filling station had disrupted her plan.
The story was the same on Friday at the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, and neighbouring Nasarawa and Kaduna states as motorists spent several hours in the queues that stretched several kilometres.
The development left hundreds of passengers stranded at various bus stops.
In many parts of Nasarawa and Kaduna states, the few petrol stations that had product dispensed the commodity at rates far higher than the official pump price.
Despite the fact that the petrol stations sold petrol at over N150 per litre, hundreds of motorists still patronised them.
The current fuel scarcity took a turn for the worse on Thursday, a day after Kachikwu said despite the efforts being made by the Federal Government, fuel queues would not completely disappear until May.
Industry stakeholders had described the statement as “unfortunate and unsettling,” as it fuelled panic buying and raised the prospect of hoarding by some marketers who would want to profiteer from the current situation.
One of our correspondents gathered that most of the independent marketers’ depots in Apapa, Lagos, did not have any petroleum products, while few only had Dual Purpose Kerosene and Automotive Gas Oil (diesel).
An industry source said that the independent marketers were not being given products by the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company, a subsidiary of the NNPC.
The source said, “There is a scheming now that as much as possible, products should be given to the majors. That has been on since two weeks ago. That’s why you will hardly find other depots, that are not owned by the majors that have products here in Apapa.”
The National Operation Controller, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Mike Osatuyi, said in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, “The problem is that there is no supply, and it is as a result of bad planning by PPMC, NNPC and by extension, the Federal Government.
“We are a country and we know what we consume in a day and if you know that, and you can’t project or plan for it, it means you are a failure. We have said it several times that the NNPC cannot do it alone because it does not have the facilities.
“I am just coming from Abuja now and the queues are very long. I saw queues that formed zero for the first time in front of a petrol station.”
The Chairman and Managing Director, Mobil Oil Nigeria Plc, Mr. Tunji Oyebanji, had on Wednesday, said, “People are no longer buying the normal quantity. Some people want to buy and keep; so, the demand has gone up artificially during this period. But at the same time, the supply is not necessarily available and then it takes time to order the fuel, maybe about six to eight weeks between your order and when it comes.”
Residents of Jos and Bukuru metropolis could not enjoy the holiday as they had to be in queues stretching as far as three kilometres at some filling stations.