The fuel queues which were noticed at the weekend in Abuja grew longer yesterday, with the attendant traffic snarls slowing down commercial and social activities in the country’s capital.
Many roads within the city were blocked as motorists struggled to get the product from the few filling stations that were open, as vehicular traffic stretched several kilometres as a result of the latest scarcity.
It came after a few weeks of respite, following more than three months of gruelling petrol scarcity nationwide which the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) attributed to off-spec fuel at the time.
However, in the extant situation, a statement from the national oil firm in an attempt to explain away the sufferings faced by Nigerians affected by the scarcity of the product, described the situation as “mild”, blaming the last Muslim holiday for the situation.
The long lines had again begun to build on Saturday, but as of yesterday, THISDAY observed that the problem had worsened as almost all private filling stations had no products.
It was further noticed that while the NNPC mega stations were open for business, although with queues stretching kilometres, the outskirts were hardest hit.
In late January this year, Nigerians were confronted with supply disruptions, which began in Abuja, then spread to Lagos and other parts of the country after adulterated products went into circulation. The problem lasted until early April.
When the issue continued to linger, it was learnt that the deficit in the supply of crude oil cargoes from the NNPC through its Direct Sale Direct Purchase (DSDP) scheme complicated matters.
Under the DSDP scheme, the oil company provides crude oil to its trading partners, who in turn supply the NNPC with refined products worth the volume of crude received from the national oil company.
Sources at the firm had said that the deficit of about 17 cargoes in the DSDP obligation due to low oil production was responsible for the prolonged disruption. It’s not clear if the matter has reared its head again this time.
Fuel stations in the heart of town, including Eterna and Enyo on Olusegun Obasanjo Way in Wuse as well as Total on Herbert Macaulay, did not have products and more than half of the fuel pumps at the NNPC mega station in the area were not operational.
In addition, chaotic scenes were witnessed at the few filling stations dispensing in the central area of the city.
At the Conoil filling station opposite the NNPC headquarters, the queues stretched over two kilometres with some motorists complaining of spending over five hours without any sign of being served.
Also at the Total filling station in the same central area, security agencies battled to control cars trying to gain entry through the exit gate as the situation became rowdy.
But in a release signed by the NNPC Spokesman, Mr Garba Muhammad, the NNPC said it had noted the sudden appearance of fuel queues in parts of Abuja.
“ This is very likely due to low load-outs at depots which usually happen during long public holidays, in this case, the Sallah celebrations.
“Another contributing factor to the sudden appearances of queues is the increased fuel purchases which is also usual with returning residents of the FCT from the public holidays,” it noted.
The statement said that the NNPC and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority ( NMDPRA) in conjunction with their marketing partners had taken necessary measures to ramp up load-outs from all depots.
“We assure all residents of the FCT, and indeed all Nigerians, that we have ample local supplies and national stock in excess of 2.5 billion litres, with sufficiency of more than 43 days.
“The NNPC Ltd hereby advises motorists not to engage in panic buying as supplies are adequate as will become increasingly evident in the coming days,” the national oil company stated.