Nigeria: 11 Months After Subsidy Removal – Nigerians Still Face Fuel Scarcity, Long Queues

Eleven months after the federal government removed fuel subsidy and opened up the market for competition, Nigerians are still grappling with the harsh realities of fuel scarcity and long queues at petrol stations across the country.

This is as oil marketers have traded blames on the current fuel scarcity as petrol queues continued to build up in major cities across the country despite assurances by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) that supply has been regular.

President Bola Tinubu removed fuel subsidy entirely on May 29, 2023 during his inauguration, and prices of petrol rose steeply across the country.

This removal of petrol subsidy was supposed to open up petrol imports to the private sector as part of provisions in the Petroleum Industry Act 2021, thus taking the monopoly of petrol importation from the NNPCL.

However, the NNPCL has for several months now returned to being the sole importer of petrol in Nigeria, as private oil firms are unable to obtain foreign currency for importation

The NNPCL had previously announced that it was no longer the sole supplier of petroleum products in the country, but the situation has changed due to forex shortages

The NNPCL defended its monopoly in fuel import, citing oil marketers’ inability to cope with price volatility in the downstream sector

The buildup of fuel queues was noticed earlier this week in Lagos and continues to widen as some petrol stations mostly operated by independent marketers have gone dry. A similar situation is reported in Abuja where long queues have been reported at dispensing outlets.

Prices of petrol on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway communities before Berger seem to remain the same though most filling stations visited were shut.

While long queues were seen at some of the filling stations, the price of PMS was N610 per litre in Ardova filling station in Warewa, NIPCO was selling for N645 along the Arepo-Magboro axis of the Express Road, and at Conoil, it was sold for N640 per litre, as they all maintained the prior rates they have been selling the fuel products.

At Falomo, Lagos, Total Energies and Mobil sold at N605 without any queues while at NNPC at Obalende, fuel sold for N568.

The chief corporate communication officer at the NNPCL, Olufemi Soneye, told LEADERSHIP that supply is regular and advised Nigerians to shun panic buying.

“The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd) wishes to clarify that the tightness in the supply of Premium Motor Spirit currently being experienced in some areas across the country is as a result of logistics issues and that they have been resolved.

“It also wishes to reiterate that the prices of petroleum products are not changing,” Soneye said in the terse statement.

The company urged Nigerians to avoid panic buying as there is a sufficiency of the product in the country.

However, a key operator in the downstream industry told our correspondent that complaints from independent marketers was that supply had been irregular in the last few days.

Our visit to some depots in Lagos showed that loading was ongoing but not as much as it was in the past.

The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) said that the scarcity of petrol is due to a logistics hitch impacting the supply of petroleum products across the country.

LEADERSHIP Friday observed that several filling stations including some outlets of the NNPCL were shut, and customers were told, “We do not have fuel.”

Many commuters in the nation’s capital, Abuja, were seen stranded at major bus stops, as only a few taxis were available to transport passengers. The available transporters increased the fares payable by passengers.

Speaking on the cause of the scarcity, the national president of IPMAN, Abubakar Maigandi, said that the NNPCL had just met with the association and assured them of enough supply of petroleum.

“We just held a meeting with the NNPCL and we were told that the scarce supply is due to logistics issues which according to them are being resolved. So these queues will soon be off because they assured us that they have enough supply.

“You know NNPCL is the sole importer of the fuel; we don’t produce in the country so they buy from outside the country and it goes through a process. So this is just a logistics issue. So please there is no need for panic buying. We will soon have petrol everywhere,” he said.

The secretary general of Petroleum Dealers Association of Nigeria (PEDAN), Ibrahim Yahaya, told LEADERSHIP Friday he could not point to any genuine reason for the current situation.

Yahaya said he learnt earlier about agitation by tanker drivers for upward review of haulage cost.

“I will probably link this to demand by the National Association of Road Transport Owners, NARTO, asking for a hike in haulage cost. In some cases you find filling stations deliberately shutting down while they have products while some will be operating with few pumps. All these I believe are pushing for much profiteering. But when Dangote Refinery begins to pump petrol into the system we will have respite,” he said.

Last week the NNPC Limited said tight supply witnessed in some filling stations in Lagos was as a result of an issue in one of the depots in the area. The NNPC Retail Limited has since resolved the issue and effective tomorrow, normalcy will be restored within the affected area, Soneye said.

The NNPC Limited, during the period, called on motorists in Lagos to avoid panic buying of PMS as all hands are on deck to sustain sufficiency in the supply of petroleum products in the area.

In the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, long queues also resurfaced in filling stations across as our correspondent observed that filling stations in the territory were selling fuel at between N660 and N724 per litre.

At Conoil filling station in the central area close to NNPCL, the filling station was discovered to be selling fuel at N660, and the queue was so long that motorists waited for hours before they could get fuel.

Also, at A. A. Rano filling stations at Jabi, and along Kubwa express road, which were selling at N690 per litre, the queues were not as long as that of Conoil which was selling at N660 per litre.

A new mega filling station in Kubwa known as Abanurat filling station was selling at N724 per litre, and despite the increase in the price, motorists were seen waiting patiently to buy fuel in their cars, while Rainoil filling stations both in the city centre and Dutse axis of Abuja were selling at the rate of N685 per litre.

It was also observed that major filling stations like Shafar, Conoil, Asman, Mobile and Total filling stations from AYA down to Kubwa express road were under lock and key; they were not selling fuel to motorists.

In Kaduna, particularly within the metropolis, most of the fuelling stations are closed for lack of fuel, or the operators were hoarding in order to sell to at back marketer while the few ones that were open had long queues of motorists waiting to purchase the product.

Some of the fuel stations sold for between N690 and N700 per litre while in some fuel stations the product sold for as much as N1,000 per litre.

At the AA Rano fueling stations at Command Junction and Station market Roundabout, motorists lined up waiting for the officials to commence dispensing the product.

A taxi driver, Kenneth Adams of Nnamdi Azikiwe Expressway Bypass said: “It’s really frustrating to do transport business now. I just bought a litre of black market fuel at N1,000. One has to look for an open fueling station with fuel and join the queue for almost one to two hours before one can get fuel. The authorities should look into this fuel scarcity issue because it is not funny at all.”

Some of the fuel stations in Kaduna metropolis were shut since Monday causing commercial Bus drivers and tricycle operators to hike transportation fare.

A bus driver, who identified himself as Abdul, disclosed that on Wednesday he bought the product at N900 and N1,000 per litre at the black market when he observed that some of the fuel stations were shut.

A passenger at command junction expressed joy that transport fare to Abuja was still what it used to be and expressed hope that the fuel scarcity being experienced now will be addressed holistically.

In Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, the pump price of petrol varied according to how each marketer bought the commodity. While some filling stations sold fuel at between N720 and N780 per litre, others sold at N800 as against the previous weeks when fuel was sold at between N680 and N730.

LEADERSHIP Friday’s checks revealed that the NNPC retail outlets in the state that would have given succour to motorists with their selling price of N637 were all shut.

When LEADERSHIP Friday inquired from one of the filling stations why the sudden increase, the manager who craved anonymity said the pump price was previously N730 per litre, but after exhausting the old commodity, they could not get fuel until the present one they bought at N740 per litre, hence they are selling at N780 per litre.

Our correspondent reports that notwithstanding the differences in the pump prices at various filling stations, no significant queue was witnessed at the stations selling cheaper, which some motorists attributed to hardship and residents parking their vehicles over persistent rising pump price.

Also, fuel queues resurfaced in some Kano filling stations as some of them have remained closed in the last two days. Most of the vehicles on the road were commercial vehicles.

The price per litre of petrol is not fixed as it ranged from N690 to N730, while it sold for about N800 or more by black marketers who are rapidly resurfacing in the city.

The unofficial story is that the fuel stations are expecting a fall in the price of the product but are not sure of the exact price. They wouldn’t want to purchase it and the price be reduced to avoid loss.

In Enugu, our correspondent who went round Enugu city discovered that major distributors were selling fuel at N600 per litre at their various filling stations

LEADERSHIP Friday’s investigations also revealed that other filling stations not owned by major distributors are selling fuel at between N680 and N720 per litre.

Our correspondent sighted long queues at the filling stations selling fuel at N600 per litre, a development that partially paralyzed vehicular movements in the areas.

In Ibadan, Oyo State capital, the price of PmS was between N630 and N640 per litre.

There was little or no queue in most of the petrol stations.

Also, the cost of transportation was unchanged

The price of petrol in Imo State has remained consistent at N650 since the introduction of the new pump price by the current leadership of President Bola Tinubu.

Almost all filling stations in the state had the product and there were no queues in the various stations. This could be attributed to the exorbitant price of petrol.

In Dutse, the capital, and other part of Jigawa State, only few filling stations were open and sold at the coast of ₦750 to ₦775 per litre.

At the NNPC mega station in Dutse capital the pump price remained ₦620.

The fuel scarcity and increase in pump rice seemed to have dashed the hope of better days promised by government; rather the situation is becoming more difficult for them.

Civil servants lamented the daily increase in the cost of living while salary remains unchanged, described the situation as a plot to undermine public service.

A senior civil servant in Jigawa State, Alhaji Musa Saudi, faulted the National Economic Policy as responsible for the deteriorating the situation.

“There is no country that can survive on palliative economy which Nigeria is currently operating,” he declared.

In Katsina State, Independent market filling stations are selling fuel at the rate of N815, N780, N760 and N700, while the NNPCL sold at 620 per litre.

LEADERSHIP Friday observed a long queue at the NNPC mega station, where motorist queued for hours to buy the product.

The hardship and scarcity of fuel reappear barely four days ago, rising to many closure of filling station.

In Owerri, the Imo State capital, several private fuel stations remained shut while the fuel selling has long queues.

The NNPC mega stations at Onitsha road and Holy Ghost College junction were dispensing fuel to tens of customers even as they sold from only one or two pumps.

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