Petrol queues resurface in Abuja, Kaduna

Long fuel queues have reappeared in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), and Kaduna, one month after normalcy returned to the city.

The long queues returned to retail outlets in Wuse, Gwarimpa, Wuye and Kubwa expressway while other outlets were not selling the product.

But the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, has assured Nigerians that the queues at fuel stations in various parts of the country would soon disappear.

Kyari gave the assurance while speaking with State House Correspondents, after a briefing with President Muhammadu Buhari in his office at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He said the Corporation has increased the daily supply petrol across the country from 550 trucks to 1,661 trucks to combat the build up of fuel queues in some parts of the country.

A statement by the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Dr. Kennie Obateru, quoted the Managing Director of the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC), Mr. Musa Lawan, as saying that there are about two billion litres of PMS in strategic depots across the country to keep the nation well supplied for two months if no drop of fuel was imported in that period.

“We have embarked on massive load out. Today, we trucked out 1,661 trucks from all depots across the country. Reports reaching us show that they have already started arriving at the filling stations. We believe that this would ease out the queues,” Lawan reassured.

Lawan said a 24-hour situation monitoring committee has been set up to track the movements of trucks from the depots to the various filling stations across the country, assuring that the queues will thin out in the next few days.

Fuel stations all over the FCT, since Saturday, started witnessing long queues of motorists struggling to buy the premium motor spirit (PMS), also known as petrol.The situation worsened yesterday.

However, while fielding questions from the correspondents, Kyari, who explained that the scarcity had been as a result of suspension of operations by tanker drivers, who were protesting some labour issues with their employers, said the worst is over as the strike had been suspended for one week.

According to him, the tanker drivers, as at yesterday, had already resumed lifting fuel from depots across the country, adding that the agreement struck with the aggrieved drivers would enable government to reach a more lasting understanding on the matter.

“These queues will go away. It’s because there was an industrial action by petroleum tanker drivers against their employers, the National Association of Road Transport Owners around their compensation package and those issues were not resolved up till yesterday, until we intervene to ensure that there’s an amicable settlement between the parties so that they will have peace and then normal loading operations will commence from the depots.”

“As I speak to you at this moment, loading has commenced in all depots in the country, dispatches of trucks are ongoing in all the depots in the country and they have called off the strike for a period of one week to enable us intervene and find a solution. So there’s really nothing fundamental that is happening now,” he assured.

Asked about government’s plan to end the petrol subsidy regime in the country, the NNPC GMD said government was still in the process of working out the best way out of the current situation, which he assured would be in the best interest of the ordinary citizen.

“Subsidy is a policy matter, I’m sure you’re aware of this, there are engagements going on within government to get the best framework for having a fully deregulated PMS market. As this is going on, we are engaging all parties and all stakeholders as government and to make sure that at the end of the day, there’s an exit that is beneficial to the ordinary man.

“That is why we know we will not be able to complete that in the month of May and and therefore we declared that there will be no increase in fuel price. I have no update in hand now, this is beyond me, but we’re engaging to make sure that we have the right timeline,” he said.

Asked how recent rising crude oil price at the global market had impacted on the NNPC’s revenue, especially during a season when the country is discussing removal of fuel subsidy, Kyari said “you know it works both ways. Once prices increase, your revenue also increases.

“So I don’t have any numbers around it, but I also know that your obligation to price of petroleum increases and your net revenue also increases. There’s a balancing factor, I don’t think there’s anything much to worry about”, he explained.

The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) National Vice President Alhaji Abubakar Maigandi confirmed that the striking drivers had called off their strike and hopefully petrol will be sufficiently available before weekend.

He said: “The cause of this petrol scarcity is the Petroleum Tanker Drivers went on strike last week. They have now called off their strike so the petrol should circulate adequately before weekend.”

Most of the independent marketers in the FCT have run out of petrol since weekend.

This has resulted in a few major marketers and the NNPC retail outlets selling the product.

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