12 April 2016, Abuja – As motorists and other consumers continue to struggle at filling stations to get Premium Motor Spirit (petrol), marketers on Monday said they were expecting new vessels from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
The marketers said it would take a few more days for the supply situation to return to normalcy, adding that loading at some of the depots in Apapa, Lagos had improved as a result of the vessels that came into the country last week.
But the improvement in loading, according to them, is not enough to meet the demand as many marketers who had long secured tickets to load petrol had yet to be attended to.
Our correspondent gathered that a vessel ordered by Nipco Plc, with capacity for 24 million metric tonnes, berthed at the Apapa jetty on Saturday, and loading of the product had since commenced.
A source, who is an official of an independent marketer, said, “The discharge from the Nipco vessel has actually improved supply of the product at depots and filling stations. The vessel is part of the first quarter allocation. Nobody has been able to bring in any product for the second quarter. The process will take about three weeks.
“There has not been any other vessel from the NNPC since the last one came in last week. The depots are loading, just that there are a lot of outstanding tickets that need to be taken care of. As the NNPC has outstanding tickets, we also have outstanding tickets.
“There are people who have paid into our system since November last year and they have not been able to load. We are trying to programme them bit by bit, but it is not easy because we still need further supply.”
It was gathered that when the Nipco vessel leaves, another vessel with product from the NNPC would come in.
In Lagos, many filling stations did not have the product on Monday, while black market operators had a field day as they sold the product for as much as N300 per litre.
The National Operations Controller, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mike Osatuyi, said in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, “We are hoping that if they continue the supply, in the next four or five days, we should see some improvement. If those vessels that have arrived are fully discharged and supply improves very well, we should see a return to normalcy at the filling stations soon.
Commenting on supply of the product to IPMAN members, he said, “It is better but they need more supply. When the major marketers’ vessels start coming in, it will be a lot better. I know some major marketers will get their vessels this week.”
The queues in the few filling stations in Abuja and neighbouring states that dispensed the product failed to disappear on Monday despite assurances from the Federal Government, the NNPC and oil marketers that the situation would improve.
Similarly, the number of filling stations that dispensed petrol on Monday was few despite the 7,000 fuel loading tickets, which members of IPMAN claimed to have received from the Federal Government.
Despite assurances from IPMAN, the NNPC and the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, long queues for petrol were seen in front of several filling stations in Abuja.
Motorists and other petrol users were sighted at filling stations belonging to the NNPC, major oil marketers and a few independent dealers.
On the Kubwa-Zuba Expressway, filling stations like the NNPC mega station, Conoil, Nipco Plc, A.A. Rano and Total had long queues.
The few petrol stations along the Abuja-Keffi road in Nasarawa State that dispensed the product were not left out as commercial motorcycle riders and motorists besieged them.
Black marketeers continued their trade as usual, as they sold 10 litres of petrol for between N2,500 and N3,000, depending on the bargaining power of the customers.
Some residents of the Federal Capital Territory expressed disgust over the lingering scarcity.
“We’ve heard so much promises, but the queues have failed to disappear. This is annoying,” Tioluwani Sunday, a motorist who spoke with one of our correspondents at the NNPC mega station along the Kubwa-Zuba Expressway said.
Kadiri Ahmed, another petrol seeker, said, “The Petroleum minister had initially said the queues would disappear in May and I think that’s the truth. All other promises that came after his initial statement were false considering the fact that this scarcity has lingered this much.”