Nigeria: Fuel Scarcity – Any End in Sight?
By Ben Ndubuwa, Leadership
The current fuel scarcity which NNPC thought it could contain now seems intractable as marketers insist that the federal government pays their subsidy reimbursement.
The Jetty and Petroleum Tank Farm Owners of Nigeria (JEPTFON) who are also both marketers and importers have dismissed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s excuses that the current fuel scarcity in the country is as a result of vandals destroying the pipeline carrying about 10 to 11 million litres of fuel daily to Lagos and its environs.
JEPTFON said that they were appalled that NNPC would not own up to their limitations and their inability to meet demand at this time. According to JEPTFON, the claim by NNPC that there was enough fuel to take the nation for thirty days was not true.
According to NNPC, the recent killing of their staff that had gone to effect repairs on the pipeline vandalised at Arepo village near Lagos would not affect the supply of petroleum products in Lagos and its environs. But last week, the corporation realised that the scarcity was biting hard as the interim solution of bridging the fuel supply gap was not adequate to meet the demand.
Dr. Omar Farouk Ibrahim, Manager Public Affair, said that the pipeline at Arepo carries between 10 million and 11 million litres of fuel per day to Lagos and its environs and some parts of the states in the North. He explained that since the pipelines were vandalised, the supply chain has been disrupted.
He said that due to security reasons, NNPC was not prepared to go back and effect repairs on the vandalised pipeline.
But to quickly reduce the hardship on consumers, NNPC said that it had increased daily loading of petroleum products by trucking, following the damage of System 2B distribution pipeline at Arepo, in Ogun State, which resulted in the current scarcity of fuel in major parts of the South from Lagos to Ilorin and beyond.
The corporation said that daily supply of products to marketers have increased as follows: Folawiyo Tank Farm from 150 to 250 trucks; MRS from 100 to 200 trucks;Capital Oil to 300 trucks; AITEO and NIPCO 100 and 70 trucks, respectively.
NNPC spokesman, Mr. Fidel Pepple, said the move was part of measures to end the current scarcity being witnessed in Lagos and some parts of the country.
According to him, the corporation had to resort to products distribution by trucking, because this would give immediate relief to consumers. He added that fuel delivery and supply to Port Harcourt, Aba and Calabar depots were also being augmented, just as bridging to the North had been beefed up.
LEADERSHIP gathered that in Apapa area, out of more than 10 depots, only two seem to be loading trucks.
But JEPTFON dismissed this arrangement by the corporation saying there was not enough fuel at the depots to reduce the scarcity. According to the Executive Secretary of JEPTFON, Mr. Enoch Kanawa, the marketers that NNPC claimed it supplied fuel were insignificant. “Some of them are not the major marketers and cannot meet the current demand,” he said, insisting that until the federal government paid outstanding subsidy, none of the major marketers was ready to import again.
He pointed out that the reason members of JEPTFON who form the bulk of the marketers were not ready to import was because banks have started charging arbitrary default interest on the money they borrowed in the past.
“How can we then go back to ask for another money to import,” he asked.
Meanwhile, Alhaji Tokunbo Korodo, Lagos Zonal Chairman of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has called on the federal government to pressurise NNPC and the Petroleum Pipeline Marketing Company (PPMC) to effect the repairs of the vandalised pipeline to ease the scarcity being experienced in Lagos.
He said the tank farms in Lagos were drying up as a result of the disagreement between the federal government and petroleum products marketers who were not importing enough owing to the debt owed them by the government.
A survey in Lagos showed that the product has started selling at high prices. Motorists out of desperation are buying from the black market for as much as N200 per litre as against the official price of N97 per litre.
Some filling stations around Ikotun and Igondo in Lagos have closed their outlet saying they were yet to ascertain the cause of the scarcity. One attendant at Igando told LEADERSHIP that they were instructed to stop selling.
At Oando filling station at Akowonja, a motorist said that the manager of the filling station gave the instruction that the attendants should not sell more than 10 litres per motorist so that others on the queue could benefit from the rationing of the product.
But Akin Fatunke, the spokesman of Mobile Nigeria Plc, said all mobile filling stations were selling fuel and that they did not have any supply challenge.