Fuel scarcity: Marketers blame NNPC, seek govt help

Petrol marketers have attributed the recent petrol scarcity in Nigeria to supply challenges faced by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, the sole importer of the commodity.

Marketers have turned to depot owners to obtain petrol for their retail outlets, resulting in a slight increase in prices across the country.

The National President of the Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria, Billy Gillis-Harry, spoke on behalf of the marketers during Channels Television’s The Morning Brief breakfast program on Tuesday.

Petrol scarcity has recently hit the country, with the state-managed NNPC blaming the shortage on “adverse weather conditions” and “flooding”.THE LOUNGE: Engaged To A Girl I Gang-R?ped In School – Should I Confess My Involvement0.00 / 0.00

Long queues at filling stations have worsened traffic conditions, with many people stranded at bus stops due to doubled transport fares.

Aside from NNPC filling stations selling at about N570 in Lagos, retail outlets owned by independent marketers have raised their prices from about N615 to over N650.

Prices are even higher in Abuja and other states.

Gillis-Harry confirmed that the NNPC, which imports petrol and supplies marketers, has not changed its price, adding that the company was upgrading its platform, which should be concluded soon.

He added, “But that did not stop NNPC from making alternative arrangements to ensure we have petroleum products. As far as we know, the challenges are all supply-based.

“If we do not get the product directly from NNPC, we will get it from depots struggling to do everything to get products out in the market, so the prices will not be the same.

“If there is anybody to be blamed; it should be blamed on the source of the products because retailers only sell what we are given, we do not import or refine.”

Gillis-Harry noted that the cost of logistics is becoming more complex due to the scarcity and expense of diesel used by trucks.

He suggested that the government should subsidize the logistics costs for fuel distribution across Nigeria.

He denied allegations that petrol marketers are taking advantage of Nigerians by hiking prices.

He stated that the highest cost of petrol should not exceed N680.

“I would expect that the highest price in petroleum where the depots operate – Lagos, Delta, Calabar, Rivers State – should be anything between N620 to N680 maximum. And when you add all the transportation issues that should take it from state to state, you can then look at the incremental additions that can come in, and make us not to be selling at N1,000,” Gillis-Harry said.

Gillis-Harry highlighted that forex shortages have impeded the importation of petroleum products, limiting the full implementation of deregulation in the sector.

“If we are importing products in a way that the deregulation is set for us to be able to import, which we desire to do, but we are hamstrung by the unavailability of foreign exchange to make that endeavour work.

“Even though we don’t want Nigeria to be an import-centred place for PMS, we need PMS to be able to work until our refineries are producing,” he said.

Gillis-Harry urged Nigerians to be patient and understanding as the current fuel shortages would be resolved.

Source: The Punch


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