No end in sight to lingering fuel scarcity

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DESPITE assurances by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation that it has the capacity to contain the lingering fuel scarcity in the country, filling stations in Lagos and other parts of the country have remained shut while the few stations that have it have hiked the price.

In areas such as Ojodu-Berger, Ogba, Ajuwon and other areas visited by National Daily, long queues were observed and the product was being sold for between N120 and N130 against the official price of N86.50

Alhaji Tokunbo Korodo, the Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, Lagos Zone, said the depots did not have enough petrol to serve filling stations across the country. “If there were enough to go round, tanker drivers, of course, would move products to the areas of need. Nigerians should not be surprised that this is happening now. It is really unfortunate,” he said.

The lingering crisis, National Daily gathered was as a result of the decision by oil marketers not to import the product due to rising exchange rate of the dollar to the naira. The other factors, according to investigations, responsible for the marketers’ action are delayed subsidy payments and rising interests on loans from banks.

One of the marketers who spoke with National Daily said it cost more to import the product because of the high exchange rates. “The rising amount of petrol subsidy arrears payable to us coupled with the high interests on loans from financial institutions, are still major issues in our hands” the marketer explained.

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Another marketer said that an exchange rate of N226 per dollar was demanded on import duties contrary to the inter-bank exchange rate of N198 posted on the website of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency for the pricing template of PMS approved on February 19, 2015.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC at the weekend assured that the Corporation is doing everything possible to end the noticeable fuel queues in most part of the country in the weeks ahead noting that the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu has activated the enablers to ensure sanitization of the fuel supply and distribution matrix.

“For the avoidance of doubt, it is pertinent to state that efforts are in full gear to eliminate all extraneous factors which have so far impeded the free flow of petrol across the country, especially the issue of foreign exchange for oil marketers which the Honourbale Minister is working with the Central Bank of Nigeria to resolve,” the NNPC stated.

While apologizing to Nigerians for the recent hardship in assessing petroleum products, the NNPC assured of normalization of the fuel supply and distribution system in the weeks ahead.

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