Artificial Scarcity, Panic Buying Persist As Petrol Sells Above FG’s Approved Rate

BY MARK ITSIBOR, Abuja with Agency Report

The pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) has risen to between N170 and N200 per litre in most parts of the country from the approved N162.

The hike in fuel price, LEADERSHIP Weekend gathered, is not unconnected with the fact that some fuel depots have closed shops while those who opened had increased their PMS per liter price from N138 to N145, translating to N7 increase.

The development, coupled with the plan by the federal government to meet the organised labour before raising the freight cost from N7.51 to N9.11 per litre, alerted the independent fuel marketers, who decided to either hoard the remaining products or sell at exorbitant price.

Similarly, the development has created artificial scarcity and triggered panic buying on the part of the motoring public, as queues are gradually resurfacing in some filling stations nationwide.
Depot owners had earlier in the week shut down operations, citing lack of the products as the reason for the closure.

However, LEADERSHIP Weekend’s investigation revealed that the depot owners are actually closing shops following speculation of increase in petrol price.

Speculations of imminent petrol price hike had been rife since the price of crude oil soared to $60 per barrel.

The cost of petroleum products is one of the components of the total landing cost of petrol in the pricing template of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).

Market observers expect the situation to heighten next week unless the federal government addresses the issue at the weekend.

If the situation is allowed to continue, market observers said, this might have a ripple effect on transport fare as Nigerians might begin to pay more for transport by next week.

To this end, the federal government has called for a meeting with organised labour scheduled to hold tomorrow.

A text message by the director of media at the ministry of Labour and Employment announcing the meeting reads: “The Honourable Minister for Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige will be hosting a bilateral discussion between the Federal Government and Organized LABOUR”.

Meanwhile, the national president of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Chinedu Okoronwko, has said the association did not give its members an instruction to increase the price of petrol.

He however said, “The market is open to everyone. If you don’t like the price in a filling station you have the right to go to another. That is part of taking place in a deregulated market. People can choose where to buy their products.”

Earlier in the week IPMAN national vice president, Alhaji Abubakar Maigandi, had also said the owners were also closing shops because of the speculated increase in the petrol price.

He said the depots have increased their price from N148 to N155.
He said, “Even depot owners are shutting down because of the expected increase in price of petrol. The depot owners have increased the price from N138 to N145.”

He noted that IPMAN was yet to direct its members to increase their pump price since it was not sure that the depots adjusted their prices legally or illegally.

But in petrol stations in Abuja, Sokoto, Anambra, Kwara,Taraba, Ebonyi, Akwa Ibom, Abia among others, the price of the product has increased.
In the FCT, most filling stations were already locked in anticipation of an increase in pump price, while some have increased their pump to N175 per litre.

Findings by LEADERSHIP Weekend revealed that the majority of the filing stations within Sokoto metropolis now sell petrol for between N170 to N200.

“That, however, is not the challenge for most users. The deliberate hoarding of the products by filling stations owners was compounding their pains.

“Most annoyingly, queues have resurfaced in most of the major filling stations within the metropolis. We, Nigerians, can’t really explain what the federal government is taking us for. With the degree of hardship already created in Nigeria, they still want to add more via the planned increment. Let the federal government understand that a penny added to the current price of petroleum will heighten the already tense situation in Nigeria, hence the assurance that it will be resisted with nationwide protests,” an angry motorist, Abdullahi Dankanoma, said in Sokoto.

In Rivers State, private stations sell Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) for between N165.00 and N190.00 litre, while the mega stations of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) sell at N162:00 per litre.

However, locally refined PMS, popularly called ‘Kpofire’ is sold for N200.00 per litre. A litre of fuel now sells for between N170 and N175 at petrol stations in virtually all the major cities in Anambra State as against the N165 it was sold last week.

In Awka, the state capital, all the fuel stations located along the ever busy Enugu-Onitsha Expressway and the popular Zik’s Avenue have adjusted upward the pump price of their petrol to N170 per litre.

Some of the petrol stations include, Fesoil, Ifenna Petroleum Limited, Sinai Oil and Gas, and Mobil Femas filling station located off the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway sells fuel at N173 per litre.

A manager of one of the fuel stations who spoke with LEADERSHIP Weekend on condition of anonymity stated that there is “uncertainty over supply and prices of petroleum products.

“Some depots have closed down while some complain that there is scarcity of products. The problem we have now is that nobody knows whether prices of petroleum products will go up anytime from now or whether it is going to come down.

“For instance, there is no kerosine at all now. We are selling the one compartment (of kerosine) we managed to buy the other day N250 a litre now, there are some other filling stations that sell N270 per litre”, he added.

Sources from Onitsha, the state’s commercial city, also said that most petrol stations in the area, including those located around the Upper Iweka axis, Old and New Market roads, Awka road, as well asothers at Nkpor, Ogidi, Obosi areas are also selling petrol at N170 per litre.

 

The situation is the same at Nnewi and Ekwulobia areas where some of the fuel stations are said to have adjusted pump prices of their petrol to between N170 and N175 per metre.

In Ilorin, Kwara State, filling stations are dispensing fuel for N162 and N170 per litre.

Most filling stations sell fuel at N162 per litre while a few others sell fuel at N165 and N170 per litre.

Our correspondent also observed that most filling stations in Abia State since Tuesday adjusted the pump price petrol even when it is yet to be officially announced by the government.

Speaking with LEADERSHIP weekend on the phone, Mr Kalu Ibe, Elder Chidi Nwadioha, and Comrade Augustine Nkemdirim, in Ohafia, Umuahia, and Aba, confirmed buying the product at the new price of 180.

A pump attendant in one of the filling stations in the capital, who gave her name as Olanmma Ihejirika, confirmed the hike in the price, adding that it was done according to the instruction of the owner of the station.

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