Fuel scarcity throws Nigerians into panic

Nigerians have been thrown into panic following the re-emergence of long queues at fuel stations in parts of the country.

The situation, amid rumour of hike in pump price of petrol, sparked fear that the festive season could be marred by scarcity of the product.

In Abuja, many motorists who closed from work yesterday were unable to buy fuel, as many stations were shut. At about 8 p.m., there was a long queue at the NNPC retail station along Kubwa Expressway that kept motorists waiting for hours.

One buyer, Alabi Ajibola, said: “Most fuel stations have closed. I have been on the queue for about two hours. This should not be at this Christmas period.”

Haruna Bashir, a commercial driver, said his side mirror was destroyed as he jostled to buy fuel. He disclosed that he had visited more than five stations before trying his luck at the NNPC retail station.

The shortage, which began in Sokoto at the weekend, worsened yesterday morning as motorists resorted to panic buying.

Some filling stations belonging to the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) increased the price of a litre to N150.

Queues were longer at NNPC mega stations and others operated by major marketers, as they maintained the official price of N145 but were reluctant to sell to motorists.

The scarcity began Saturday evening in Kano, leaving many filing stations owned by independent marketers shut.

The few stations opened along Zaria, Zoo, BUK, and Murtala Mohammed Roads had long queues.

In Lagos, there were lengthy queues at filling stations on the popular Awolowo Road in Ikoyi and at Airport Road.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) however insisted that there was no plan to increase the price of petrol, pledging it would avert shortage of the product during and after Yuletide.

Independent marketers in Lagos had earlier threatened to withdraw their services beginning December 11 due to alleged breach of bulk purchase agreement with NNPC.

The group had accused the corporation of selling fuel to it above the bulk price of N133.28k per litre, an allegation the NNPC denied.

The Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, NNPC, Ndu Ughamad, said the ex-depot price of N133.38 per litre and pump price of N143/N145 per litre had not changed.