DESPITE the Federal Government’s directive that petrol should sell for N97 a litre, most fuel marketers across the country have been found foot-dragging, prompting calls on the relevant regulatory bodies to practically ensure compliance with the new pump price.
Essentially, the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) were urged to move swiftly against the marketers who, 48 hours after President Goodluck Jonathan announced the new price, have remained reluctant to comply, claiming to have run out of stock.
In Ekiti State, Governor Kayode Fayemi, who personally monitored compliance with the new price at the various filling stations in Ado-Ekiti, threatened clamp down on any marketer who sells above the new price or short changes buyers.
At a filling station in Old Garage, the price on the fuel pump was N140 but the petrol attendant claimed that petrol was sold for N97 a litre. Fayemi asked the attendant to quickly change the price to N97. Most of the filing stations visited claimed not to have petrol but Fayemi insisted on checking their tanks to confirm the claims.
In Lagos, most filling stations have not opened to customers, making the DPR to vow to force the marketers to sell the product and at the approved price. The Controller of Operations at the DPR Zonal Office in Lagos, Mr. Gbenga Koku, who lamented refusal of marketers to sell petrol, said the agency had directed its surveillance teams to visit filling stations.
A source at the Apapa petroleum depots said lifting of petrol had started as the deport operators complied with the government’s directive. “Some of the marketers here have started loading. I don’t know why the filling stations have refused to sell, may be they are strategizing for excess profit, because many of them don’t expect the price to drop soon after a number of transactions have been made at the old pump price,” the source said.
Report from Taraba State indicates that petrol marketers have also not complied with the new price. At a press briefing, the state Chairman of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Jonah Kataps and that of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Bobboi Kaigama lamented that security agencies who were armed to the teeth to monitor workers’ strike could not as well “monitor compliance with the new price of petrol in our filling stations.
“We are calling on the security agencies, especially the Commissioner of Police to make sure they go round all the petrol stations to compel immediate adjustment of petrol pumps to the new price rate. If they fail in that aspect, our strike monitoring teams would not hesitate to take that responsibility upon themselves.”
In Enugu, petrol was still being sold at prices ranging from N160 to N170 a litre yesterday even as transport fares were not reduced.
The Guardian observed many filling stations that were selling fuel while the strike lasted refused to open. Those that opened were still selling above the official pump price.
At the Bontus Filling Station, Presidential Road where a product was sold for N160, the attendant told The Guardian that she was working on instructions. “Since they have reversed to N97 a litre, we have not been supplied products, so what we are selling is what we bought during the strike. I don’t think we can go below this until the stock is finished,” said a female attendant.
It was the same story in Imo State as most filling stations in the 27 local councils monitored by The Guardian left their meters at prices ranging from N170 to N200 a litre as at yesterday. No reason was given by the operators for not re-adjusting their meters to N97, but it was learnt that the marketers claimed, “they purchased their stock at the price they were selling.”
In Kebbi State where marketers are also yet to sell petrol at the new price, the NLC leadership disclosed plan to monitor filling stations to ensure compliance. The state NLC Chairman, Alhaji Sadiq Kaoje, said, “our officials will go round the filling stations with a view to ensuring compliance with the new price so that motorists are not short-changed.” In Abuja, there are signs that marketers are yet to adjust to the new N97 a litre of petrol yesterday as fuel queues returned to the city. Most filling stations within Abuja metropolis did not sell petrol to motorists, claiming they were out of stock.
Olalekan Ashamu, a taxi driver bemoaned the long queues, saying, “I don’t know what is happening in this country. Government just slashed the price slightly to N97 from N141 after moving it up from N65 on January 1, and suddenly, there is no fuel at filling station. Something must be amiss somewhere. When petrol was N141 a litre, it was available everywhere but just when government decided to reduce it to N97, it disappeared from the filling stations. I don’t want to believe that government is taking away what it gives us with the right hand with the left. I hope this queue will go away soon because the strike is not fully called off yet, Labour only suspended it. I expect Labour to resume the strikes and protests if these queues continue.”
It was, however, a different story at filling stations in Dutse, Jigawa State capital where the marketers have complied with the new pump price of N97 a litre.
The Guardian checks revealed that all the filing stations in Dutse have adjusted their meters to the new price. It was observed that there was a long queue only at the NNPC mega station in the town.
A worker of Conoil Filling Station along Bye-pass, Alhaji Sule Mamman, said they adjusted their meters immediately the new price was announced by President Jonathan on Monday.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has assured Nigerians that there is no need to embark on panic buying.
The Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of the NNPC, Dr. Levi Ajuonuma told The Guardian that there was adequate stock, blaming the long queues on the long holiday occasioned by the anti-subsidy removal protests.
He said: “You know we are just returning from a long holiday and so people are still buying fuel to begin the week and get themselves in shape for their duties. We expect that the queues will disappear within a few days. We will also want to appeal to marketers to follow the new price regime and desist from hoarding products. We have enough stock that can last many days. So, there is no need to either panic or hoard products.”