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Fuel scarcity persists; queue spread

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                        By Blessing Adehi

In Abuja, Niger, Lagos and other states, some filling stations dispensed Premium Motor Spirit at between N200/litre to N250/litre on Sunday, higher than the government-approved retail price of N165/litre, as queues for the product extended to more states.

It was gathered that the worsening queues for petrol in Lagos and neighbouring states, as well as its prolonged assiduousness in Abuja and its vicinity, were due to the insufficient supply of products by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company.

NNPC is the sole importer of petrol into Nigeria for several years running. It often claims to have enough products to keep the country wet for months. It, however, stayed mute on Sunday when contacted.

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It was gathered that some filling stations in Lagos sold petrol to motorists at N200/litre and still had queues, as black marketers dispensed the product at N300/litre.

In Abuja, Khalif filling station in Kubwa, dispensed the commodity at N250/litre on Sunday but had N165/litre displayed on its pumps. But once a motorist tells the fuel attendant the amount he or she wishes to buy, this would be calculated based on N250/litre.

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The queues for petrol in Abuja has never ceased since February this year, but it grew worse in neighbouring states of Nasarawa and Niger on Sunday as motorists search for PMS to move around during the Sallah break.

Oil marketers denied claims of product hoarding or diversion, as they stressed that the insufficient supply of PMS by NNPC and the non-payment of bridging claims for the transportation of petrol were the key reasons for the scarcity.

Further checks show that some filling stations in Lagos and Ogun states sold fuel at N200/litre.

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While many stations were under locks and keys despite a promise by the NNPC to keep the country wet, many among the few that had products were seen dispensing above N200/litre.

The Federal Government and oil marketers are yet to come to a compromise on how much a litre of petrol should be sold, and marketers are beginning to sell products at prices not approved by the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority.

Meanwhile, findings by our reporters show commercial buses have increased transport fares significantly, following the development while commuters wail.

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