Normalcy gradually returns in Lagos filling stations

Lagos, Dec. 12, 2017 (TNE) Normalcy seems to have returned to petrol stations within the Lagos metropolis as most of them were seen selling petrol on Thursday since the Federal Government directed Dr Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, to clear the queues.

Reports say that most filling stations within the Lagos metropolis that had products were opened to customers.

President Muhammadu Buhari, on Dec. 6 during the Federal Executive Council meeting, directed the minister and Dr Baru Maikanti, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, to ensure immediate availability of the product across the country.

An official of Mobil Petrol Station at Agidingbi, who preferred anonymity, said that all stations which had products were directed to sell them to avoid being sealed.

The manager attributed the current availability of petrol to increased supply from the depots.

He said that the NNPC, through the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), directed all Lagos depot owners to increase the volume of petrol supplied to stations in Lagos.

According to him, “we have been instructed to commence 24-hour sales in all our retail outlets in Lagos.

“Today alone, we were supplied two-tanker load of petrol and we are likely to still get one tanker of the product today.

“We hope that this trend will continue till the end of the year,” he said.

Mr Azeez Osuolale, the manager of a Mobil Petrol Station in Maryland, said that the station provided 24-hour services to motorists, adding that normalcy is gradually returning.

Osuolale said that the availability of the product has forced many filling stations to sell at the approved official price of N145.

“Those selling above pump price of N145 per litre are risking their business because DPR will not spare them if they are caught.

An Oando petrol attendant, Shina Adetayo, said that “I am happy that the era of long queues to buy petrol is gradually ending because of late closure from office.

“NNPC should do all within its power to regularly make petrol available at filling stations,” he said.

Most filing stations around Falomo, Obalende, Ikeja, Iyanapaja, Abule Egba, Ojota, Onipanu, Ojuelegba, Lawanson, Stadium Road, Orile, Ikorodu and Shomolu were busy dispensing the products.

However, the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPPMA) blamed the NNPC for the scarcity in the country due to the shortfall in supply to depots.

Its Executive Secretary, Mr Olufemi Adewole, said that inability of NNPC to make provision for adequate import caused the wide gap.

According to him, it is only NNPC that is bringing products because currently no marketer is importing petrol because the landing cost (about N172.76 per litre) is higher than selling price.

“If you add all the distribution costs, the pump price will stand at N182.17 kobo.

“But the government is saying we should sell at N145 without subsidy. That’s why we have to depend on NNPC to sell to us.

“We cannot import because no marketer can import at that big margin.

“We also noticed a supply gap in what they brought in. It was not enough at a particular time and the result is what we are seeing today,” he said.

Adewole said that the gap in petrol importation shortfall was noticed during a meeting of vessel importers with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) when NNPC failed to declare its imported vessels, adding that NNPC ought to have disclosed numbers of cargoes expected in December.

He urged the management of the NNPC to urgently replenish the stock, to avoid depot owners and marketers running out of stock.

He added that if the refineries are working at optimal capacity, the country will not experience scarcity.

The DAPPAMA scribe said that the oil and gas stakeholders knew there will be scarcity long ago, but it is systematically managed to avoid creating panic buying.

“NNPC should have adopted the same method applied in December 2016 to address fuel scarcity because they knew that there would be high demand of petroleum product in December.

Adewole said that full deregulation of the downstream sector remains the best option to address ongoing lingering fuel scarcity because marketers will source for foreign exchange to bring the product and sell at profitable price to avoid scarcity.

“That remains the long-term solution to frequent fuel scarcity of petrol during yuletide periods.”

(TNE)

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