By Adewale Sanyaolu, Bimbola Oyesola, Lagos and Dennis Mernyi, Abuja
LESS than 24 hours to the April 7 deadline given by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, for fuel supply to normalize, Daily Sun investigations revealed that the timeline might not be achieved.
The situation in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and Lagos, at press time was still chaotic, as most petrol stations have remained without products while the few that have are contending with.
There is anxiety as the scarcity still bites harder in Abuja and neighbouring states.
Observers believe that except by sheer magic or miracle, the scarcity might linger for some more days.
Kachikwu had during a meeting with the Senate said he expected that “between now and about April 6 and 7, the fuel queues will disappear, the Direct Sale Direct Purchase (DSDP) will begin and the foreign exchange allocation will see us smoothly through the track.’’
He had also promised that the situation would ease off finally in other states by this weekend.
In Lagos, a visit to depots in Apapa and Ibafon revealed that the inefficiencies in the loading process and logistics process to enable trucks load out products have compounded the fuel scarcity.
However, the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has expressed readiness to partner with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to end the perennial scarcity.
The union president, Igwe Achese said NUPENG has the capacity, men and will to end the perennial scarcity and therefore called for collaboration with the NNPC to end the scourge.
NUPENG said since 60 per cent of its members are involved in the distribution chain and most of the Independent Marketers (IPMAN) and NARTO members either NUPENG members or former members, it will be able to get the issue right and end the present scarcity of petroleum products.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s fuel shortages have caused power cuts across the border in Niger.
A statement by the state electric company, NIGELEC, said the cut has affected seven of Niger’s eight regions for the past 72 hours.
Landlocked Niger became an oil producer in 2011 but still imports about 70 percent of its power needs from Nigeria.
“This situation has caused (NIGELEC’s) principal provider to limit to a third its normal imports, which is at the base of the current disturbances observed on networks lately,” the statement explained.
“NIGELEC has found itself therefore with the obligation to proceed with rolling blackouts.”
But, Niger’s uranium-mining region Agadez, which has an independent power plant, has not been affected by the power cuts.
At the time of this report, many filling stations in the major cities across Nigeria were still locked up without products while those selling have long queues of vehicles to attend to.
Although government has warned against products hoarding and diversion as a way to discourage ‘black market’, fuel hawkers still dominate the business along highways in and streets of Abuja and Lagos.
As at yesterday morning, long queues of tankers had taken over the service lane of the Papa Oshodi expressway to Ibafon jetty.
Security officials had a hectic time controlling traffic in order to ensure that trucks drivers comply with traffic rules.
At the Capital Oil and Sahara depots in Ibafon, marketers told Daily Sun that only few trucks had been loaded at 2pm.
A marketer, Mr. Tijani Abdul, said Capital Oil and Gas have commenced a 24-hour service. He urged other depots to follow suit.
About 46 million metric tonnes of petrol is expected to be injected into the supply chain in the next three days from the NIPCO depot, but the delay in getting approvals from the relevant authorities to give clearance to cargoes is reportedly slowing down the load out process and compounding the scarcity situation.