07 December 2017, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt — Most filling station in Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State on Tuesday and Wednesday have remained shut over an anticipated increase in pump prices and the resultant hoarding by operators who expect to benefit if prices go up.
Most filling stations on Aba Road and East-West Road axis of the city were closed on Wednesday due to lack of supplies, while most orders that had product experienced long queues that spilled into the road.
When contacted, the Association of Rivers Indigenous Petroleum Marketers blamed the fuel scarcity on Federal Government’s inability to clear up the debt it was owing fuel importers.
Chairman of the Association, Mr. Obelle Ngechu, speaking to SweetCrude Reports, called on relevant authorities for intervention, pleading that the fuel scarcity should not be allowed to linger into the yuletide, as he said a litre was presently N150.
Ngechu said contrary to claims that the fuel scarcity was orchestrated by the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, the real situation was that the federal government was owing importers.
“The government is owing importers who import petrol into the country. These importers have come out to say the government owes them and the government, on the other hand, has not denied owing them.
“Nigerians need to start asking questions, the federal government said they have stopped the payment of fuel subsidy, how then are they still owing these importers?”
Obelle Ngechu also disclosed that another cause of the fuel scarcity in the country was as a result of the non-functioning of the Kaduna Refining Company.
He said presently only the Port Harcourt and Warri refineries were working, which cannot meet the demand of the country which he said was currently at 40 million litres per day.
He added that as of Wednesday only about 50 tankers were able to load products from the PPMC in the state whereas over 1000 tankers were unable to load due to low supply.
The leader of the State indigenous petroleum marketers also disclosed that petroleum product scarcity during the Yuletide was a Nigerian tradition due to the effects of excessive demand caused by panic buying.
Obelle Ngechu further explained that another cause of the scarcity of products was the inability of petroleum importers to access foreign exchange, despite billions of dollars the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, recently injected into the forex market.
He called on the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, to urgently checkmate the impending scarcity.
“The federal government needs to do something urgently otherwise in the next few days, inflation will set in which the average Nigerians will be at the receiving end. Currently filling stations are selling at N150 per litre.”