Uche Usim, Abuja
Queues created by panic buying are gradually returning to filling stations in Abuja as tanker drivers have suspended the lifting of petroleum products due to fast-spreading novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that has forced the country into a partial lockdown.
Checks by our correspondent revealed that some stations are running out of supplies and there are no tanker drivers to restock them.
The situation has forced consumers to flood filling stations with jerrycans of different sizes to stockpile petrol in the event the real scarcity hits them.
Mr Yusuf Othman, the National President of the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), an umbrella organization of all commercial transport owners in the country, had directed tanker drivers to keep away from the depots and stay at home with effect from Friday, March 27, 2020, pending when the pestilence is brought under control.
He said the action was in compliance with government’s directive that no public gathering should exceed 50 persons since loading depots across the country are places of beehives of activity containing more than 500 persons at any one time.
At the Kubwa area of Abuja, some filling stations like Mobil and Total had heavy vehicular presence as motorists and cyclists struggled to purchase petrol.
Same scenario played out in some other parts of the city.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) assured Nigerians of adequate fuel supply following implementation of sit-at-home order in some states to contain the spread of the COVID-19.
Mr Mele Kyari, Group Managing Director, NNPC, gave the assurance in a tweet on Saturday and said that the supply of petroleum products would not be affected by the lockdown.
He added: “States have all consented to allow movement of fuel trucks and operation of stations during any sit at home action.
“Our stock and supply plan is robust and there is no need to buy more than you require at any time. We will keep supplying,” he said.