From Uche Usim, Abuja and Adewale Sanyaolu, Lagos
Long fuel queues resurfaced in Abuja yesterday as oil marketers claimed to have run out of Premium Motor Spirit(PMS), popularly called petrol, just as the lndependent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) has frowned at the selective approach adopted by the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, which favours private depots in the allocation of petroleum products across the country.
On the backdop of this, IPMAN, has urged the Federal Government to fix the nations four refineries before implementing the removal of fuel subsidy as contained in the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).
The long fuel queues, spanning several metres resurfaced in Abuja Wednesday as the oil marketers claimed to have run out of petrol, leaving motorists frustrated and commuters stranded.
The development has, however, led to a sharp rise in fuel price as black marketers sold a 10-litre jerrycan of petrol for N4,000, translating to N400/litre, to impatient motorists who could not endure the long queue.
Finding by Daily Sun revealed that while most filling stations claimed to have run out of stock, they actually had the product but preferred hoarding it.
The few that dispensed the product had long queues of motorists.
Conoil filling station, opposite the NNPC headquarters in Central Area, had queue stretching over 200 meters. The same scenario was observed at Oando in Wuse Zone 3, NNPC mega station on Kubwa expressway and other places.
Sources at the NNPC Limited said there was no need for artificial scarcity or panic buying because there was sufficient petrol in stock.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr.Timipre Sylva, had on Tuesday said the Federal Government had foreclosed plans towards the removal of petroleum subsidy by June, saying it had proposed to the National Assembly that the implementation of the PIA be delayed by 18 months.
IPMAN President, Alhaji Debo Ahmed, while commending the Federal Government on the proposed removal of fuel subsidy, said all issues that would enhance the smooth implementation of the PIA should be addressed before its final take off.
Ahmed said a situation whereprivate depots were given preference above NNPC depots was disastrous for IPMAN and a threat to their investments in the downstream petroleum sector.
He said the selective supply of petroleum products to private depots and absence of same to NNPC depots across the country was making it impossible for the product to be sold at the government approved price band.
“Our huge funds are tied up with PPMC, a subsidiary of NNPC, where members pay for NNPC products supplied to their depots.
Ahmed restated his association’s demand for payment of outstanding bridging claims owed marketers by the defunct Petroleum Equalisation Fund(PEF) now operating under the name, Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA).
“We are equally pleading that marketers’ transportation claims be paid to allow members remain afloat in business.”
At the scrapping of PEF, Sylva had assured the marketers that the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) would take over the debts that the PEF was owing.
Ahmed had during the inauguration of the association’s new national leadership recently in Abuja said “Our members have billions of Naira as transportation claims with the defunct PEF now NMDPRA. As a united association, we have to follow through to make sure our members are paid unconditionally.
The new Petroleum Product Marketing (PPMC) Customer Service Department is another bottleneck tying up billion Naira members for payment of unsupplied products,’’.