By Adewale Sanyaolu
True to the Daily Sun report of February 18, warning of an impending fuel scarcity, queues returned to major parts of Lagos metropolis at the weekend, disrupting the free flow of vehicular movement.
Checks conducted by Daily Sun across some filling stations revealed a situation of acute shortage of petrol, forcing some marketers to deploy the rationing approach in order to service some of their corporate clients who are on retainership agreement with them.
As early as 6am yesterday morning, long queues of motorists in search of fuel had occupied the NNPC retail outlet on Jonathan Coker Road in Fabga area of Abule Egba in Lagos, far ahead of the 8am resumption time.
The same scenario played out at the NNPC retail outlet on Old Lagos Abeokuta Expressway close to the Charity Road intersection at Abule Egba, also in Lagos.
Long queues of motorcycles,jerrycans disrupted the movement of early risers, who had planned to catch up with the early morning Sunday worship service in their respective churches, forcing some to look for alternative routes in order not to be late for church.
A couple of fuel retain stations, where, however, under lock and key, taking their time to observe the trend to see if it would get better by Monday(today) before they begin to sell,a situation that has further compounded the fuel scarcity challenge.
For instance, the Conoil retail outlet on Dayo Adeniji street, New Oko Oba,Abule Egba, was not opened to serve members of the motoring public, ditto for Fowobi at Fabga and a couple of others within the Abule Egba/Iju road axis.
At Ikeja,Ogba,Lagos Apapa Oshodi Expressway, the situation was the same except for Forte Oil at and NNPC retail station at first and second Rainbow bus stop, that were dispensing, others shut down their operations.
In a text message inquiry to the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs, Mr.Ohi Alegbe, on the current fuel scarcity,he said ‘‘Will call you back later please. Trying to find out what is responsible,’’.
Repeated calls made to his telephone line went unanswered.
But an industry source who pleaded not to be named, explained that the fuel scarcity situation would continue until the end of quarter one of 2016.
The source, hinted that the triple challenge of forex shortage, huge import allocation of 76 percent allotted to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation(NNPC) by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatroy Agency(PPPRA) for first quarter imports and the reduction in throughput margins for depot owners from N3.000 to N1.50k,remained the reasons for the unabated fuel scarcity.
The source that the current scarcity has further proved that the NNPC lacks the capacity to import 76 percent of the petrol needs in the country,adding that the monopolistic stand of the state oil corporation will worsen the petroleum products supply chain,as presently being experienced.
‘‘The situation may have forced the PPPRA to summon a meeting of industry stakeholders last week Wednesday,to review the sucesss or otherwise of first quarter import allocation, with a follow- up meeting which continues this week,’ ’he said.
He lamented that marketers have now resulted to sourcing forex in trickles from banks,which he said takes forever to accumulate, thereby prolonging placement of orders for cargoes.
At the moment,he said depots which included Folawiyo,MRS and a host of others are out of stock,adding that,MRS has over 2,000 tickets of trucks to load, with additional ones being sent to them,even without products.
Checks conducted by Daily Sun revealed that NIPCO Plc as at yesterday have stock, but loading is just for 50 tickets per day, which is grossly inadequate for the needs of the consumers.
Indeed, IPMAN,had last week called on the corporation to step up import of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as petrol to avert another round of scarcity.
National Operations Controller of IPMAN, Mr. Mike Osatuyi, had said that the fuel situation has been fragile since the NNPC assumed the role of being the sole importer petrol.
“There is supply gap over a period of time now, the NNPC imports 78 percent of the petrol needs of the country. I can only say you should tell them to improve on imports.
They have access to forex because they do the SWAP deal and therefore, are not constrained by the challenge. But for marketers, it is difficult to source the Dollar and therefore not profitable to import under present condition”, he had said.