By Williams ABAH
The Federal Capital Territory and its environs is experiencing yet another fuel scarcity, with endless queues and petrol cans dotting almost every filling station in Abuja metropolis.
The latest shortage of premium motor spirit is said to be a result of methanol-blended petroleum recently discovered in circulation.
Oil marketers fear the scarcity will persist until depots are restocked with adequate and quality petroleum products.
They say the directive to withdraw adulterated petrol from the market after distribution to many stations across the country created a supply shortfall.
The NNPC say the adulterated product was imported into the country by four oil marketers through four PMs cargoes under NNPC’s Direct Sale Direct Purchase arrangement.
NNPC in a statement listed the four companies to include Emadeb, Oando, Brittania-U and MRS.
However, in the midst of the crisis, the NNPC promised that over 2.3 billion litres of PMS would be delivered before the end of February 2022 to totally arrest the situation.
In the meantime, black marketers and other unregulated dealers are making the most of the current situations, especially as they seem to be the only option for residents and business owners who heavily rely on petrol to move around or run their businesses.
A 10 litre of PMS that should be sold for N1650, was sold as high as 8000 in the peak of the scarcity.
Car owners and commuters have been most affected by this scarcity and price hike as evident in the number of commuters that swarm bus stops on a daily basis.
For instance, the ever busy Mararaba/Nyanya express way have been daily flooded with commuters since the scarcity began over two weeks ago. People have had to walk long distances or made to pay more than three times the usual transport fare. A trip from Mararaba to Wuse which used to cost N150, rose to N500 at the peak of the scarcity.
The scarcity has also affected the economic lives of the people, in both city and surbub areas of FCT. Women who went to “Bush market” to buy perishable commodity, such as tomatos, vegetable, carrot, and cashew are also counting their losses as some of their goods were trapped with no vehicle available to convey them to their destination.
A cross section of Nigerians interviewed at AYM Shafa’s filling station in Wuse Zone 3, described the hardship caused by the scarcity of fuel as another stage of ‘mess’ in Nigeria.
Mr. Unazodo Osigbo, a spare parts dealer, who was on queue at the filling station said, “Few persons who control the machinery of government just hold millions of Nigerians to ramson. This is unfortunate! Today government will tell you they are paying subsidy, tomorrow you will hear a difference story. What kinds of loopholes in the energy sector that cannot be addressed?
“Look at other oil producing country, they buy fuel at affordable price, but here we go through severe hardship yet government wants to increase the price of fuel which influence every facets of economic lives. How do we survive this? It is sad that the stakeholders in the energy sector fail woefully in managing the only source of national revenue to the benefit of Nigerians,” he stated.
Some Nigerians interviewed at Old CBN junction, blamed the government for inconsistency in the implementation of Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, which was passed into law by the joint session of National Assembly.They also blamed the government for not putting measures in place for emergency situation like this scarcity which has caused a lot of gridlock, adding that if there are alternative roads, commutters wouldn’t have suffered.
Gimbya Usman, a resident of Guzape said”I’m going to my office at Area 1, the bike i took from my house to CBN junction here is N200, before now N100 can take me from my house to Old CBN junction. Look at all these increments, and yet the authorities are not doing much to alleviate the suffering of the masses.
“If the Apo/Karishi roads had been constructed and put to use, we wouldn’t go through all this , when there is emergency situation like this. All the access roads was blocked. Government should wake up from slumber and provide access roads that can links all the city centre”.
Mr. Abu mai Nasara also said, “Nobody expected this scarcity again. I was relieved when the PIB was passed into law. But lack of consistency on the paths of government has hinder its implementation.
“This is a country where crude oil are taken to another country for refining. What does it take for government to build even one refinery that can refine 500 barrel of crude oil in a day? We have a law guiding the operation of the petroleum sector. It is an extant laws and regulations, and has been gazette. So government should go back to the drawing board and do the needful”.
While other residents groan under the weight of the fuel scarcity, black marketers and some petrol stations are smiling to the bank. For them, business has never been this good as fuel cans are filled and sold as fast as they come.
A black marketer who simply gave his name as Salisu Dauda, said he has made money in February alone than he’s made since he got into Abuja for his cobbler business.
He said though the struggle to get fuel from the filling stations can be dangerous and expensive, the money he makes at the end of the day makes it worth the trouble.
According to him, “We get our supplies from the filling stations themselves. Most petrol station managers have our contacts and they call us late at night to sell fuel to us beyond the official rate. The one I’m selling now was sold to me at N200 per liter at one of those filling stations in town. If you consider the difficulties involved and the cost of moving the fuel from the filling station to this place, then you will agree with me when I say I have no choice than to sell 10 litters for N4000.
“People may want to paint us bad, but the truth is that we make this current situation easier for many residents. We take away the long hours they would have spend queuing up for fuel by providing them with clean fuel when it is needed.” Photo: Long car queue at an NNPC station, Wuse, Zone 3