Friday, 25 March 2016

Fuel scarcity bites harder across Nigeria

Shortly after the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, announced that the current scarcity of petrol may persist till May, the shortage of the product has taken a turn for the worse as consumers across the country have resorted to panic buying of the product.
Also some filling stations which were selling before the comment by the minister seem to be hoarding available product with the aim of selling it at a premium.
At the Otedola Estate and Berger ends of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Mobil, Capital Oil and Oando filling stations had long queues of desperate motorists and other customers, which spilled onto the road causing heavy traffic.
The scarcity also became worse in Abuja, Kaduna and Nasarawa states, hours after the minister’s comment as hundreds of motorists armed themselves with jerry-cans and besieged the few stations dispensing petrol on Thursday.
Mr Peter Esele,Ex President of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, said, 
“I think that statement is very unfortunate. If you look at it on the surface, probably the minister just wanted to tell Nigerians the way it is. But again, that is what is on the ground. There is no need for us to colour the challenges that we are facing.”
Esele said the comment had created a lot of panic buying in the system.
“That is where I actually have an issue with the minister’s statement. He wanted to be upfront. But being upfront means that you can also now unsettle and unbalance the system.
“Right now, what we have is that the system is unsettled based on the minister’s comment. What I would have expected is that he informs his principal, who is the President and Minister of Petroleum, then the principal will now know how to deal with it and communicate to Nigerians effectively.
“Now, we are going to have those (marketers) who even have products who want to hoard and sell at very expensive prices.”
The Chairman, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, Lagos Zone, Alhaji Tokunbo Korodo, said that the statement was too blunt.
“The statement was a little bit blunt. Instead of deceiving Nigerians, he (Kachikwu) made it known to them that there is no magic he can do. It may not be up to that two months because it is not that he is not doing anything; they are doing something tangible.
“The panic buying, which the statement has created, is not good for the system, and it is even portraying this government in bad light. But at the same time, it is a plus to us as Nigerians so that we will prepare very well and be efficient in using fuel.”
Meanwhile,  the Deputy Manager, Public Affairs, DPR, Mr. George Ene-Ita, said the agency would clamp down on any marketer found to be hoarding products.
“For us, it is a routine thing. Our people go out daily and whatever we see there, we take action as appropriate,” he added.
On the Kubwa Expressway, the two NNPC mega stations located on opposite sides of the road had long queues and motorists were determined to buy petrol even in their jerry-cans, despite the fact that the outlets had prohibited the sale of fuel in jerry-cans.
“What do you expect from us after the minister has announced that the scarcity will last till May?” Ogbonnaya Kalu, who armed himself with two 40-litre jerry-cans in front of one of the NNPC mega stations, told the paper.
The NNPC on Thursday said it was doing everything possible to end the noticeable fuel queues in most parts of the country in the weeks ahead.
It also stressed that Kachikwu was misquoted on the issue of petrol scarcity dragging on till May. 


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