For days, Nigerians faced challenges occasioned by scarcity of fuel until speedy supply of petroleum products by the Nigerian National Petroleum Commission (NNPC). However, despite the intervention, motorists across the country, as at last week, were still at the mercy of the filling stations and their attendants.
Checks by our correspondent penultimate Friday at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) revealed that the product was not being sold at the controlled price.
A visit to some filling stations in the outskirt of the capital city showed that each seller has his own price.
In Masaka, a satellite town in the FCT, petrol was being sold for as high as N115 to N130 per litre in privately owned filling stations.
For example, the product is being sold at N130 per litre in Kasco Filling Station while in Elephant co. Limited, also in Masaka, the product was being sold at N115 per litre.
When asked by Saturday Independent why they are selling the product at such a high price, the attendant at Kasco Filling Station said: “We also bought this product at a higher price and there is no way we are going to sell it at the controlled price. When we finish this consignment, we will wait until we get the one at the cheaper price.”
The attendant at Elephant Filling Station, while responding to questions from our correspondent, said: “We bought this product at N114, therefore, we are selling it at N115 so that we can make a profit of N1.”
However, an Okada rider who grudgingly bought the fuel at N130 per litre, blamed fuel marketers for causing untold hardship to the common people, according to him, because “of their quest for quick riches.”
He, therefore, called on the Federal Government to ensure that sufficient crude oil is being processed in our local refineries to put an end to incidences of fuel scarcity in the country.
However, a visit to some NNPC mega filling stations showed that the product is not available, but the attendants who are anxiously waiting at one of the filling stations, said that they were expecting their consignment to arrive “in the next few hours.”
On his part, a black market operator, who, in the past one week, took advantage of the fuel scarcity and made brisk sales, lamented how the fuel scarcity did not last till next week so that he could meet his target before the product becomes available.
According to him, “I must confess to you that, in the past few days, I made good money. I came out this morning to continue the business because I have set a target for myself, but I discovered that the fuel situation has improved and people are no more patronising us.”
In Imo State, virtually all the filling stations visited in Owerri, the state capital, and its environs, had long queues of vehicle with women and children carrying empty jerry cans waiting anxiously to buy the commodity.
The long queues of vehicles and crowd caused by desperation to procure the commodity has provided a field day for fuel attendants who not only sell at unstable prices, but also prefer to deal with retailers at cut-throat prices, who thereafter resell the product in bottles by roadsides.
At Ukoromi, Chybke, Ebere Links,Mago, Tonnimas, Total, Conoil, Odele filling stations, fuel attendants sell the product for between N90 and N100 per litre while their relations, friends and associates buy products at relatively cheaper prices.
Confusion arising from the scramble by members of the public to obtain the product has compelled the proprietors to engage the services of youths believed to be urchins to ensure law and order at the filling stations. However, the youths have capitalised on the situation to make quick money.
Black marketers and shylock traders now make brisk business, selling the products procured from filling stations to the public.
However, those who cannot afford the commodity have resorted to the use candles and firewood for domestic purposes.
Some motorists, have as a result of the scarcity, parked their vehicles and resorted to taking commercial vehicles to their destinations.
For fear of the unknown, some filling stations now close business for the day as early as 6p.m.
Some attendants attributed the situation to the sharp practices of those at the NNPC depot, Osisioma, Aba, Abia State, who according to them, impose harsh conditions on them before giving them the commodity.
Investigation by our correspondent in Enugu showed that most independent oil marketers sell petrol for N105 per litre.
The filling stations visited by our correspondent include Juhel at Ogui Junction, JEZCO at New Haven Junction, Conoil at Zik Avenue and Bontus at Presidential Road, among others.
At the filling stations, the attendants said that they were selling the product for N105 per litre.
A fuel attendant at JUHEL Ogui Road, said that as soon as the scarcity started, the station readjusted its pumps from the approved N87 per litre to N105.
At Bontus, it was gathered that the station was selling petrol slightly above the approved price of N85 per litre before the scarcity and thereafter, there was an upward review to N105 per litre.
Some managers and fuel attendants in various parts of Lagos State seem to be smiling to the banks with money realised on illegal deals, following the fuel scarcity.
Our correspondent, who visited some filling stations in Lagos, observed that the long queues experienced during the peak of the scarcity have reduced.
However, the reduction in the queues has not stopped some corrupt managers and fuel attendants from doing illegal deals.
For instance, at the popular Conoil Filling Station located at Ile-Epo bus-stop along the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway on Friday, some female fuel attendants, who spoke with our correspondent, said that they were selling petrol at N87 per litre and diesel at N140 per litre.
But observations around the station revealed that some of the fuel attendants collected money as tips from buyers before selling the products.
Some motorcyclists and tricycle operators around Ile-Epo and Pleasure area of Abule Egba, Lagos, have also accused some fuel attendants at NNPC, Conoil and MOA filling stations of adjusting their machines and selling their products at lower quantity to unsuspecting buyers.
It was a different story at General Oil Limited station, located at Iyana-Ipaja, as motorists, were seen queuing for petrol.
But at the station, the same N87 per litre was paid for petrol while diesel went for N140 per litre.
At Total Filling Station in Abule Egba, some youths involved in black market deals were seen buying petrol with kegs at the pump price of N87 and selling the products to motorists along the expressway at higher prices.
In Ibadan, Oyo State capital, transporters and commuters have been subjected to the antics of the attendants in some of the few stations where the product, especially the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), popularly known as petrol, is available.
A check round some of the stations revealed that the price of the product (PMS) has increased from the official N87 to N100 per litre.
Another noticeable feature of the current fuel scarcity is the dichotomy in the selling price between the major marketers and independent marketers.
While the few major marketers that have the commodity sell at the official price of N87 per litre, the independent marketers sell at N100 per litre.
Due to the situation, the mega station of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on the Ojoo/Iwo Road axis of Lagos/Ibadan/Ilorin Expressway has been witnessing huge patronage by motorists.
Though only few of the pumps were working when our reporter called at the station, the official price of N87 per litre was maintained.