From Uche Usim, Abuja
The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has threatened to deal with recalcitrant independent oil marketers hoarding petrol and inflicting hardship on Nigerians. The Director, DPR, Mr Sarki Auwalu, gave the warning in a statement on Tuesday.
DPR’s threat is coming amid frustration by Nigerians who lamented the country was slipping back to the dark days of motorists sleeping at filling stations to purchase petrol as long queues have persisted in parts of the country.
Auwalu said there was no need for long queues at retail stations as available records show that there is sufficient petrol for the entire country.
He said: “The DPR will not hesitate to apply appropriate sanctions on any outlet found wanting in this regard.
“The regulatory agency has set up a special taskforce to intensify surveillance and monitoring of all retail outlets and depots nationwide to check the anomaly.”
Auwalu, while warning the public against panic buying, assured that the DPR would always provide sound oversight functions at the downstream sector.
Already, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, (NNPC) has ruled out the possibility of further petrol price hike in March and warned against hoarding and panic buying.
Elijah Okemini, a taxi driver lamented: “yesterday, I queued up at Mobil station in Kubwa. The one along Bwari road. I was there for many hours under the scorching sun but a few metres into entering the premises, they said they had exhausted their stock. “I learnt they will receive a fresh supply this Tuesday evening. I’m likely going to leave my car there overnight so that I’ll be among the first persons to buy petrol on Wednesday morning.
“So, we’re back to sleeping at filling stations. This is insane”, he said.
Another motorist, John Joseph said he would scout for filling stations in the evening where tankers are discharging petroleum products.
“If I see that in the night, it then means they will sell the next morning. So, I can as well sleep there. There is no way I’m going to buy petrol at N400/litre at the black market”, he said.
Long queues of anxious motorists resurfaced at most filling stations in Abuja and other parts of the country four days ago.
Checks by Daily Sun revealed that the scarcity is driven by marketers’ speculation and quest for profiteering in anticipation of the outcome of the ongoing discussion between the government and organized Labour over the fuel crisis.
Oil marketers had calculated that the Federal Government will increase the pump price of petrol on March 1 following the increase in crude oil prices at the international market.
Since the government has been meeting with the organized Labour on unresolved issues bordering fuel pricing, Nigerians anticipate that the outcome would likely be another upward adjustment of the retail petrol price at the pump.
In September 2020, following the last fuel price increase by the government, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) threatened to shut down the country with an indefinite strike action to protest the decision.