While Nigerians that are just recuperating from the after-effect of the last fuel scarcity are groaning from the biting effect of the current fuel scarcity that has rocked some parts of the country, black marketers on the other hand are having a field day and smiling to the bank.
Most filling stations in Lagos, Oyo and Abuja have shut down their services while only a few filling stations are dispensing the commodity.
With many filling stations not dispensing, black marketers have taken over with their five and 10-litre gallons selling at as high as N500/litre to desperate motorists.
Investigations by The New Diplomat show that a 5 litres keg of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) popularly known as petrol goes for around N2500 to N3, 000 in many black-market spots around Ikeja, Abule-Egba, Festac, Oshodi and Amuwo Odofin areas of Lagos State.
One of the motorists who spoke to this paper disclosed that having spent close to five hours in the queue without any hope of getting the commodity, he had no choice but to patronize the black marketers who sold 10 litres for him at the price of N5, 000.
“Most of these filling stations are working in connivance with the black marketers or how will you explain the fact that I have been in the queue for over five hours and cannot get fuel but these boys will just stroll into the stations with their gallon and come out with fuel. They are even selling it in the front of the filling station without any fear.
I didn’t have a choice, I had to buy 10 litres from one of them for N5, 000” he lamented.
Meanwhile, the scarcity has worsened in the last 24 hours as Independent Marketers under the aegis of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) said it is no longer sustainable to sell the product at the official price of N165-N166 per litre.
Mr Akin Akinrinade, Chairman, IPMAN, Lagos Satellite Depot, Ejigbo, who confirmed the development to newsmen in Lagos said the members decided because they could no longer operate at a loss.
According to him, the current scarcity being witnessed in Lagos is because the majority of petrol stations in the state are owned by IPMAN members who are finding it difficult to operate in a hostile environment.
He said: “As you can see, the queues are back and this is the second time we are witnessing it this year. However, this one is peculiar in the sense that for a particular reason, IPMAN members decided to shut their stations. This is not because we are on strike, but because we can no longer do business under this condition.”
Akinrinade said IPMAN members ought to be getting supply from the Pipelines and Product Marketing Company (PPMC) and had made payments of over N1 billion since October 2021.
He said the products were yet to be delivered forcing members to patronise private depots for products while at the same time servicing loans borrowed from banks for their money with PPMC.
Akinrinade said: “Now, these private depot owners have increased the ex-depot price of PMS from N148.17 to N162 per litre. That is the amount they are selling to us.
“When you factor in the handling charge, transportation and running cost of our stations, you will see that even within Lagos, the minimum we can retail petrol is about N180 per litre.
“We want Nigerians to know that IPMAN members are patriotic citizens and we are not out to sabotage the effort of the government because we know this hike in petroleum products prices is not peculiar to Nigeria.
“The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine has disrupted the supply chain and the Nigerian government is doing its best to mitigate its impact on our nation.”
He, therefore, urged the government to direct the private depots to revert to the old ex-depot price for PMS or deregulate the downstream sector to allow market forces to determine the price.
Akinrinade also advised the government to expedite action on the rehabilitation of the nation’s refineries to increase the domestic refining capacity.
He further called for the resumption of pumping products through the PPMC Ejigbo depot, which would enable IPMAN members to get supplies at a cheaper cost.
Also, Akeem Balogun, Secretary, IPMAN LSD in a statement noted that “with the current price, there is no way they can sell less than N180 per litre”.
He consequently asked their members to adjust their pump meters to reflect the sustainable price in their areas.
“Distinguish marketers, the Chairman and executives in conjunction with some senior members of our unit, organised a press conference today 20th June 2022, at IPMAN HOUSE Ejigbo Lagos, where we explained our predicament with the current price of PMS at private depots.
We explained that with the current price, there is no way we can sell less than N180 per litre. On this note, members are hereby advised to sell at a sustainable price within their environment. Just make sure that the price is on your pump. Kindly contact the Secretariat should you have any authority challenging your operations” he stated.