The fuel crisis across the country worsened, weekend, as most of the petrol stations were shut down leaving motorists stranded.
This was in spite of claims by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, on Friday, that it is injecting about 688 million of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, into the market. Motorists had to resort to the black market, where roadside petrol sellers now sell the commodity for as high as N250 per litre.
However, the NNPC, yesterday, promised that it was working to ensure that the situation is addressed quickly and assured Nigerians that the fuel supply situation will improve in the coming days.
Responding to enquiries from Vanguard, spokesperson for the NNPC, Mr. Ohi Alegbe, said: “On Friday, we had stated that in 48 hours we will wet the market with 688 million litres of petrol. Distribution of products is by trucking. You will agree that it is some distance from the depots and tank farms in the south to the depots and retail outlets in the hinterland. Expectedly, the queues should disappear before long.”
Furthermore, Alegbe blamed the scarcity on panic buying by motorists and sharp practices by some retail outlets who are hoarding the commodity, thereby frustrating efforts to stem the scarcity. He said the NNPC had informed the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, of these sharp practices by some petrol stations’ owners for adequate sanctions against them.
He said: “Panic buying has persisted in spite of our appeal to motorists. Secondly, some retail outlets are hoarding the product by dispensing from only one pump head. We have reported some of them to the DPR and we believe appropriate sanctions will be meted out to them appropriately. Also, a source in the DPR disclosed that the scarcity currently being experienced in Abuja is as a result of panic buying and not because of non-availability of petrol.
According to the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, DPR officers in depots across the country and even in the FCT have been sending in reports of availability of the commodity at the various depots and liftings by trucks to various petrol stations. The source said: “The DPR had also had discussions with a number of petrol stations’ owners who told us that panic buying is responsible for the long queues.
“A particular owner of one of the petrol stations told us that he received a tanker load of fuel on Friday morning and is expecting to receive another consignment of the product before the end of the day. So, it is evident that the product is not scarce, just people buying the commodity out of fear of the unknown.”