* More marketers run out of petrol, shut gates against motorists
- Reactions trail IMF’s call for subsidy removal
TRACKING >>Long queues of motorists for Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as petrol yesterday resurfaced in filling stations in parts of Lagos and Ogun states. This came as more marketers ration the product for motorists as the number of stations that shut their gates surged. This newspaper, had on Tuesday reported that the depot owners through which the filling stations load fuel have jerked up ex-depot price from N133.28 per litre official modulated price to N139 per litre, making the N145 per litre pump price unprofitable for marketers. NNPC in reaction to this, said 55 depots nationwide are flooded with the product. Long queues of motorists for fuel were, however, on Friday noticed at Mobil filling station few meters from Otedola Bridge along the Lagos Ibadan Expressway in Lagos as the gates of other stations in that axis were under lock and key.
Queues also surfaced at the Total filling station along Ikosi Road worsening traffic on the road and spreading to the Motor Ways. Mobil filling station at Odo Eran, along Agege-Ogba road was also rocked by long queues on Friday. This same situation also played out at the NNPC in Salolo area of Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway as more marketers in that axis began to ration the product to motorist as high landing cost takes toll on their businesses. Oando and other filing stations on the stretch of Ojodu road except the mega station of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) did not sell the product during an early visit to the axis by this newspaper but queues were noticed at the NNPC. This same situation was noticed at Ota, Ogun state, as more stations shut their gates to motorists. None of the stations including Faith and Mervelous; Florinkay; Iswat, Henry Oil on the Lafenwa Itele road, except Rakab filling station, sold the product.
“The effect of this is yet to be generally noticed because mega stations and major marketers have supply of the product. If nothing tangible is done, we may begin to have a situation at hand beginning from next week,” a management staff at a private depot in Apapa told this newspaper. A motorist at the Ojodu NNPC mega station, Mr. Folu Ijasan, told this newspaper that he joined the queue when he noticed that many filling stations on the stretch of Ojodu road did not sell petrol. “My neighbour who works at a depot in Apapa has told us that privately owned filling stations got under supply of petrol. He said that many of them got 11,000 litres supply instead of their 33,000 litres demand. “So, he said that we might begin to notice effect at filling stations from next week. I was alarmed today to have noticed that there are more filling stations who are not selling the product. The best I could do, which I have done, is to join the queues here at NNPC,” he said.
The NNPC, however, promised to sustain zero queues across the country, especially as Easter approaches. The corporation, in a statement restated its commitment to what it described as “the sustenance of the present seamless supply and distribution of petroleum products across the country.” Group Managing Director of the corporation, Dr. Maikanti Baru, who, according to the statement issued by Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs division, Ndu Ughamadu, said this, added that no fewer than 55 depots across the country were fully stocked with petrol. He explained that 23 depots in Lagos, seven in Port Harcourt, 11 in Warri, six in Calabar and eight in Kaduna, were stocked with petrol. Meanwhile, reactions yesterday trailed the call by Managing Director, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, on the Federal Government to remove fuel subsidy, saying it is the right thing to do. Addressing a press conference on Thursday at the on-going joint annual spring meetings with the World Bank in Washington DC, the IMF boss said with the low revenue mobilisation that existed in Nigeria in terms of tax to Gross Domestic Product, it was important for the country to remove fuel subsidy. By so doing, she opined, the country would be able to move funds into improving health, education, and infrastructure. Executive Secretary of the Major Marketers Assiciation of Nigeria (MOMAN), Clement Isong, told this newspaper yesterday that government should, in addition to the ending the fuel subsidy regime, effect a total deregulation of the downstream sub-sector. “We, as MOMAN, want full deregulation as soon as possible but we understand that the government has got to be strategic in its implementation of the policy. “So our belief is that we need to get out of this subsidy regime as quickly as it is practicable for the sake of government, for the sake of all Nigerians and for our own sake,” Isong said.