27 April 2016, Lagos — Marketers of petroleum products said, yesterday, that non-payment of N150 billion outstanding debt owed them by the Federal Government was also hampering the availability of products nationwide.
Their position came as the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, said the ongoing fuel scarcity might linger as marketers face the challenges of non-availability of petrol in depots.
A major marketer, who chose to be anonymous, said with the non-payment of the outstanding debt, coupled with the scarcity of foreign exchange, marketers were finding it difficult to import products.
“We have been told that the government included the outstanding debt in 2016 budget. We are yet to see it as you and I know that the budget is yet to be passed,” he said.
No petrol to load in any depot
Also speaking, Chairman, Western Zone of IPMAN, Ahmed Debo, said marketers were facing serious challenges because there was no petrol to load.
“There is no product to load to the hinterland. Most marketers depend on Lagos and they could not get the product; so, it’s very difficult getting petrol in Ilorin, Kogi, Osun, Ekiti, Ibadan and other areas.
“We hope the government would expedite action on petrol importation to salvage the situation as most marketers have been thrown out of business. We could not load petrol in major depots in Lagos as it is only NIPCO and Folawiyo that have products, which is strictly for NNPC retail outlets,” he said.
Debo explained that loading tickets given to marketers couldn’t work as “there is no petrol to load in any depot.”
He, however, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently intervene in the lingering fuel scarcity issue and importation challenges to avoid hindering the socio-economic growth of the nation.
He said: “We are still having the fuel problem because there is no supply. Even with the little we are rationing, if you look at the queues very well, they have returned to what they used to be. And it is a very devastating situation now.
“Most of the depots are not loading well. Even the products they promised that they will soon pump to the depots are not in sight now.”
It was gathered that the slight improvement in product availability seen in recent days has worsened as queues grew longer since weekend at the few petrol stations selling the product in Lagos.
It was also gathered that queues grow longer in Lagos metropolis while loading at depots has not improved significantly, with many of them still attending to tickets issued in 2015. Consequently, many filling stations in Lagos do not have the product, while those who have sold between N120 and N180 per litre.
Some stations on Ikorodu Road such as NIPCO, Total, Conoil and Forte Oil are selling but experiencing long queues. At filling stations such as Techno, Oando, MRS within the Ojodu – Berger axis, motorists buy petrol between N150 and N200 per litre, as against the official price of N86.50k.
*Sebastine Obasi – Vanguard