Fuel crisis pains go on as Senate invites Kachikwu
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Ibe Kachikwu is to visit the Senate over the biting fuel scarcity that is threatening businesses and making life difficult for Nigerians.
Dr. Kachikwu, who is also the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), is to appear before the Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) today to state the steps being taken to stop the scarcity.
Committee Chairman Jibrin Barau told reporters after an on-the-spot assessment of filling stations in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) that the invitation became necessary following the hardship Nigerians go through as a result of the scarcity.
He said despite assurances by the ministry that the situation would be controlled, it had lingered. 'We have invited the Minister of State (for Petroleum Resources) to appear before the committee tomorrow (today) to tell us about the fuel scarcity and the strategy he is employing to solve it.
'`We will expect him to give a date when the problem will be resolved permanently. We are not satisfied because this problem has gone unabated for too long. The situation is appalling and it is a major problem. We gave the ministry enough time and space to put its act together to solve this problem.'
Petrol prices have gone up to N170 per litre and above in some areas, especially during the Easter celebration as against the government's approved N86.50 per litre.
The crisis is believed to have got worse after Kachikwu's statement that the scarcity will not end till May. The statement triggered panic-buying and hoarding. Many oil marketers started hoarding and diverting to sell at a premium. Apart from very few filling stations owned by the major oil marketers that sell at the regulated price in Lagos, others sell at between N110 and N150 per litre. In most parts of Enugu State, petrol sold at N170 and above.
As a result of rationing of supply at the depots, oil marketers resorted to lobbying the NNPC to get allocation.
Fuel hawkers are all over Lagos, selling 10-litre kegs at between N2,500 and N3,500, depending on the area.
The Senate Minority Whip and a member of the committee, Senator Philip Aduda, said the situation should be arrested fast. 'What Nigerians need is fuel and not blame game,' he said.
Aduda said: 'The government should look for petrol and ensure that it is given to the people.
'It is unacceptable; we are Nigerians and it will be bad for us to continue remaining on queues. We want to see all these queues disappear '.
Petrol marketers lamented that lack of supply and inadequate supply by the NNPC resulted the scarcity across the country.
The manager of Forte Oil, opposite Transcorp Hilton in Maitama District, said only three fuel tankers were being supplied daily; it used to be five or six.
Isa Friday, manager of Oando Filling station, Zone 4, noted that it had been long the station got supply from the NNPC depot in Suleja.
In Ibadan, petrol sells for N150 per litre.
The pump price, which is about double the official price, became popular due to the worsening scarcity.
Aside a few major marketers selling the product at the official rate of N86, most filling stations, including those owned by independent marketers, were closed for the long weekend.
At the very few filling stations selling the product at the official price, queues were long.
A few independent marketers which opened for business, however, sold petrol at N150 per litre.
Motorists continued to lament the situation as they are forced to pay more and travel long distances to get petrol.
The situation was worse in other towns in Oyo State. In Ondo State, the product sells for N160 per litre.
However, many of the filling stations failed to sell PMS to motorists, just as many passengers were stranded.
The situation also affected Easter celebration as many people could not travel. They stayed indoors.
Only the NNPC mega stations in Akure and Ore sell petrol at the official N86 per litre.
A long queue of vehicles was at the NNPC mega station in Oyemekun, Akure, causing a serious traffic jam on the popular Oyemekun Road.
Many transporters slept at the station to get petrol. The Nation