Nigeria imports 35 cargoes because of fuel scarcity

Apr 30, 2009 02:00 AM

Hope was re-kindled that the current fuel scarcity across the country will soon ease out as investigations have revealed that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has brought in 35 cargoes of petrol, each laden with 39 mm litres to tackle scarcity of the product.
The fresh fuel crisis may not be unconnected with the unwillingness of marketers to import products and chaotic distribution chain where product is 100 % distributed through trucks across the country as against the use of pipelines meant for the purpose.

As the scarcity bit harder, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State directed the management of Warri Refinery and Petrochemical Company (WRPC); Pipeline and Products Marketing Company (PPMC) and Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to report to his office in Asaba to explain why there is fuel scarcity in the state. Specifically, the Managing Director of WRPC, the Area Manager of PPMC and the Director of DPR in Warri were requested to report to the Governor's office by 11a.m. prompt.
"All concerned are advised to adhere strictly to this directive", the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Sunny Ogefere, stated.

In Lagos, residents continued to search for fuel in and around the metropolis following the scarcity of the product just as the State Government warned owners of petrol stations against hoarding of the product as well as residents from keeping the product at homes.
In Akure, the Ondo State capital, commuters were stranded as the fuel scarcity bit harder with many motorists abandoning their vehicles at filling stations. The situation remained much the same in Ogun, Osun and Oyo states.

Children trek long distances to schools
Reports from other parts of Ondo state painted a worrisome picture of the hardship experienced by motorists as a result of the scarcity. They resorted to trekking long distances as pockets of commercial vehicles plying the roads hiked their fares while majority parked their cabs at home.
Pupils in different schools in the state capital lined the major streets of Akure metropolis as they trekked to their schools. The NNPC Mega station which sold fuel had to stop mid way when motorists became violent following their impatient to continue to stay on the queue. It however resumed dispensing after security operative intervened and the motorists promised to be orderly.

Long queues all over
This fresh scarcity is coming on heels of another that was compounded by the strike by members of Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) branch of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas workers (NUPENG), over the seizure of 27 of their trucks by the officials of Lagos State Transport Management Agency (LASTMA) for alleged traffic offence. The PTD's industrial action's induced scarcity was called off following the intervention of the federal government through the NNPC.
A government official said there is belief in government circles that the scarcity could be because of unscrupulous marketers who may be catching in on the opportunity to hoard petroleum products. He said that is why government has directed the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), to put up a monitoring team to checkmate any marketer who may be sabotaging the economy by hoarding petroleum products.

The Group General Manager of the NNPC, Dr Levi Ajuonuma, said a statement would be issued soon on the current situation which is fast spreading nationwide. The DPR also confirmed that it would be conducting a routine inspection of petrol stations in Lagos, this according to the message, is in view of the fresh queues which sprang up.
Lamenting the resurgence of scarcity across the country, President of NUPENG, Comrade Peter Apkatason warned that inasmuch as the nation continues to depend on import for domestic uses, this unfortunate problem would continue. Apkatason argued that as of now, the government had no concrete plans to comprehensively address the problem because operators do no know the policy direction of government.

He said: "We have nothing to do with it. We have no problem with anybody. Our members are working and lifting products where available. We think the government has refused to hold the bull by the horn by making sure local refining takes precedence over the so-called import dependence."
"In an economy that is import dependence, a cartel will always hold people to ransom and members of the cartel will always manipulate the market to their favour. The short term solution is for government to enter into refining agreements with neighbouring countries that have functioning refineries to refine products for us pending when we will be able to have domestic refining capacity. If we have such refining agreement, the vagaries of international crude market will have little or no effect on us because the nation will only be paying for refining charges and things like that."

Only the Federal Government can explain this scarcity, says LASG
On its part, Lagos State Government through the Commissioner for Transportation, Prof Bamidele Badejo said: "Government and residents had observed the emergence of long queues of vehicles waiting in and around the metropolis to buy fuel at petrol filling stations across the state and wishes to state that this has nothing to do with the recent strike to state that this has nothing to do with the recent strike embarked upon by the Petrol Tanker Drivers' Association which was as a result of their tankers being contravened by Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) for indiscriminate parking on the highways. The immediate and remote causes of the discomfort can only be explained by the Federal Government Agencies who are in charge of distribution of petroleum products in the state."
The state government has therefore directed LASTMA officials to maintain orderliness along highways where petrol stations are dispensing fuel to members of the public so as to reduce the man-hour loss to Lagos residents.

Source / Vanguard
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