The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) has advised the Federal Government to revive operations at NNPC depots across the country to ease petrol distribution. Alhaji Ahmed Debo, the Chairman of South-West Zone of IPMAN, gave the advice on Friday in Lagos.
Debo said that government had neglected the depots for too long, adding that only nine out of 35 depots across the country were currently working. According to him, the current measure put in place by government for marketers in the Western Zone to load petrol in Lagos could not be a permanent solution. “Government should embark on massive repairs of depots and products pipelines in the country to save marketers from coming to Lagos to load products. ” Most marketers, who come to Lagos to load products, are facing so many challenges such as bad roads, time consuming and negative impacts on turnaround of liquidity of marketers’ investments.’’
Debo also appealed to government to deregulate the downstream sector of the oil and gas sector to ease frequent challenges of fuel scarcity. He said that revival of the country’s refineries would also go a long way in addressing the perennial fuel scarcity in the country. “Government should stop playing politics with the issues of downstream sector. “Lifting of petrol at Apapa private depots is not the lasting solution, there is the need to look inward’’.
The deadline given by Mr Ibe Kachikwu, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, for fuel queues to disappear across the country lapsed on Thursday. The situation across filling stations in Lagos metropolis, reported that the situation is gradually easing. Many filling stations are dispensing fuel, an indication that supply has improved on what obtained in the last three weeks. In Abule Egba, Agege, Maryland, Ikeja, Ikorodu, Apapa, Ojota, Oregun and Mushin, majority of the filling stations were dispensing, but had long queues of vehicles. The independent marketers were selling a litre of petrol for between N180 and N200 with desperate motorists queuing for long hours to get petrol. On Ikorodu Road, there was a logjam on the service lane as Total, MRS and NIPCO filling stations had long queues of vehicles. As at 10.30 a.m, when NAN visited NIPCO, they had exhausted 45,000 litres, while another 33,000 litres were being discharged as at 11.45 a.m.
Meanwhile, another 37,500 metric tons of petrol arrived in Lagos ports on Friday, a development that may help improve the supply situation. A breakdown of the consignment according to NAN investigations revealed that MRS, Oando and Conoil got 25,000MT from a vessel christened Admoard E Leader, while Forte Oil got 7,500MT and Mobil 5,000MT.
A source at Apapa Depot told NAN that each tanker containing 33,000 litres was paying security agents about N300, 000 to facilitate their loading process. “You know Apapa area and Ibafon are rowdy and for a tanker who has got a docket to load may be far from the loading bay. “So, they need the assistance of security officials to fast track the movement of their tankers to the depots. “Eventually, this extra cost is passed on to the consumers,’’ the source said.
Another marketer at Forte Oil, Mr Shittu Salimon, said it would take another seven days before the situation could ease. This, he said, was as a result of logistics problem associated with loading at the depots.