Despite inspection of the fuel market by Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, prevailing scarcity of premium motor spirit defied solution
Sopuruchi Onwuka Despite the hyped inspection of the fuel market by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, the prevailing scarcity of the highly demanded premium motor spirit otherwise called petrol defied hopes and went acute towards weekend.
Dr. Kachikwu was in Lagos for direct inspection of filling stations to gauge the level of fuel supply flow in the country’s busiest commercial centre but got caught up in very stringent supply stricture that left most of the major retail outlets in the in the city shut to customers.
A survey of the market yesterday showed rowdy scramble for fuel at few filling stations belonging to major marketers that opened to customers in the early hours of the day. Most of them closed to customers later in the day.
Meanwhile sharp market activities and price breaking dominated retail activities at other stations owned by independent marketers despite all threats of sanctions and penalties by both the minister and Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) which technically enforces compliance in the industry.
Prices soared as high as N180 per litre in some areas of council areas of Lagos while some filling stations introduced all manner of unofficial service fees outside the pump prices.
In response to the fuel crisis, some broadcast media houses in Lagos that volunteered into live monitoring of supply flow aired complaints from motorists that make call-in call from filling stations, reporting sharp practices from almost all corners of the state.
A source at DPR told The UNION that the agency was overwhelmed by the situation in the market, adding that the scope of the scarcity was too large for the agency to effectively enforce market discipline.
Our source disclosed imposing sanctions on defaulting marketers as ordered by the minister might force marketers to shut down to avert penalty and worsen the prevailing scarcity in the process. On price breaking, he said motorists refuse to demand for right price, explaining that most of the fuel consumers are too desperate secure supply to insist on correct prices.
During his visit to Lagos, Dr. Kachikwu had stated that government was driving triple action measures to quickly resolve the fuel problem in the country, pointing out that a combination of massive import, settlement of subsidy claims to private importers and reactivation of the refineries would address supply concerns in the market.
He hinted that government was hoping that ongoing rehabilitation of the nation’s refineries would be concluded by this month to coincide with landing of 26 petrol cargoes for sustainable fuel supplies.
Meanwhile the National Assembly has approved supplementary budget for 2015 with specific intention to release funds for payment of over N413 billion subsidy claims to enable private marketers import products to augment government supplies.
Meanwhile, Port Harcourt Refining Company (PHRC) in the week restarted all its process plants to start producing over five million litres of petrol per day after the management and staff of the company made sacrifices to quickly repair collapsed column in the Crude Distillation Unit (CDU).
Dr. Kachikwu explained that the 90-days ultimatum period set for the refineries would elapse in December while effective business model would be by January put in place to ascertain the level of investment and technical capacity of the refineries.
– Sopuruchi Onwuka