Though a vessel, which carried about 27 million metric tonnes of petrol, berthed at the Petroleum Wharf, Apapa, Lagos on Wednesday, and the discharge of its content is expected to start today (Thursday), marketers said supply had not kept up with demand.
One of the two vessels that came in between Monday and Tuesday was said to have started discharging, with loading by Mobil, Forte Oil, Nipco Plc and others.
Our correspondents gathered over 8,000 tickets had been issued to marketers to load Premium Motor Spirit at depots in Apapa, as the scarcity of the product persisted at many filling stations on Wednesday.
A source, who is an official of an independent marketing firm, said, “We need a minimum of 250 trucks loading petrol. From Apapa alone, if 300 to 350 trucks are being loaded every day, we can begin to see an end to the scarcity. We are not doing up to 200 trucks currently. The number of unloaded tickets here in Apapa is more than 5,000.
“In terms of supply to the depots, it is getting better; it is just that most of them have been very dry before now. It is not feasible that the scarcity will end tomorrow (Thursday), contrary to what the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources said. If it is feasible, you will know from the loading points here.”
In Lagos, a litre of the product sold for between N120 and N250 at some filling stations, instead of the N86 and N86.50 official pump prices, while black market hawkers sold it for as high as N400 per litre.
The National Operations Controller, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Mike Osatuyi, said, “If the product is available, we will load it. The NNPC should make the product available; we are ready to load 24 hours for the benefit of Nigerians. Our vehicles are ready and we have already paid.
“We have over 8,000 tickets that we have already paid for and waiting for loading. Let them load us so that we can wet the system. They are ready to partner us and so are we. We don’t have any issue with the government, but they have to make the product available by whatever means.”
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers has said it is ready to work with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to end the lingering fuel crisis in the country.
The union noted in a statement on Wednesday that since 60 per cent of its members were involved in the distribution of petroleum products across the country, it had the capacity to end the fuel shortage.
The President, NUPENG, Igwe Achese, said in a statement, “The Federal Government should also assist the marketers through the Central Bank of Nigeria to procure foreign exchange to import petroleum products in order to cushion the biting effects of fuel scarcity.
“The union also enjoins the Federal Government to honour and pay all joint venture agreements to end the current lull in the upstream oil and gas business. The union calls on the Federal Government to make the refineries work optimally to reduce the dependence on foreign importation of petroleum products.”
Meanwhile, queues of motorists and other petrol users failed to disappear on Wednesday in Abuja, Nasarawa and Kaduna states despite assurances from the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, that they would disappear by Wednesday or Thursday.
This is coming as members of the 14-man committee inaugurated by the minister to mediate in the feud by factions of IPMAN held a meeting on Wednesday afternoon in Abuja and insisted that the queues across the country were largely because of the rivalry in the association.
Last week, Kachikwu raised the committee and charged it with the task of doing everything possible to bring back peace to the association at the national, zonal and depot levels.
Although the queues in Abuja had reduced marginally when compared to last week’s experience, the same could not be said of the situation in parts of Nasarawa and Kaduna states.
The few filling stations that dispensed petrol along the Nyanya/Mararaba axis of the Abuja-Keffi Expressway had hundreds of motorcyclists, popularly known as okada riders, as well as motorists in queues waiting to be served.
Similarly, filling stations run by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation were besieged by fuel seekers as the out-lets dispensed at the government approved price, while many others sold the product at higher rates.
The Nipco, Total, NNPC and A. A. Rano filling stations on the Kubwa-Zuba Expressway, Abuja, had queues of motorists and okada riders.
The two petrol stations, Total and Conoil, located right opposite the four towers of the NNPC in Abuja, dispensed products on Wednesday, but had long queues of anxious motorists.