• Filling stations operators extort hapless motorists

fuelA week after oil marketers and workers called off their strike on the intervention of the Senate Committee of Petroleum (Downstream), the fuel crisis that the strike triggered is yet to abate.

Motorists in the Federal Capital Territory and other states of the federation still waste enormous man-hours queuing for petrol at filling stations.
Except for a few major marketers and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC Mega Stations which sell the product at the pump price of N87 per litre, others still sell it for between N150 and N180 per litre.
Some frustrated motorists in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, yesterday expressed displeasure with the unruly behaviour of security personnel and fuel station managers.
They told Nigerian Pilot that apart from spending endless hours at filling stations, the operators extort them before the product is dispensed to them.
At the NNPC Mega Station, Katampe, Kubwa Expressway, Nigerian Pilot observed that rather than sell the product to motorists on the queue, the station managers preferred to attend to motorists willing to grease their palms.
Jacob Kwushue, a businessman, complained that the situation had caused untold hardship on road users, adding that security personnel were worsening the situation by jumping the queues.
Kwushue said: “The situation of fuel supply here has been so terrible, so bad that people are on the queue yet they cannot get fuel to buy.
“The stress is too much on motorists. People go through the second gate, pay between N500 or N1,000 to pave their way and they are served whereas those on the queue are ignored.
“So, those are the problems that we are having here. We (road users) want the Federal Government to intervene speedily in this matter by dialoguing with the marketers and reach a compromise on the matter.”
Another motorist, Abel Akure, a civil servant, accused some of the fuel station managers of taking undue advantage of the scarcity of the product to make monetary gains from innocent motorists.
Akure decried the level of indiscipline at most filling stations and urged President Muhammadu Buhari to take urgent measures to sanitise the system.
At the Total Filling Station on the same axis on the Kubwa Expressway, the scenario of long queues and desperate motorists was not different.
Anthony Eze, a taxi driver, said the lingering fuel crisis had paralysed his business and urged those in charge to do the needful to bring an end to the sufferings of Nigerians.
Christiana Ejembi, a nursing mother, simply likened the fuel crisis in Abuja to the popular adage that “when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.”
And despite the directive by the Federal Government to petrol stations to sell fuel at N87 per litre, some stations in Osun State have refused to comply with it.
Investigations by Nigerian Pilot revealed that some of the petrol stations in Osogbo, the state capital sell petrol at between N130 and N140 per litre.
In Lagos, most marketers in Ikorodu, a suburb of the metropolis, have declined to sell petrol at N87 per litre.
An investigation by the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, showed that most petrol stations are using the national shortage in the supply of petroleum products to exploit consumers, in spite of the warning against such acts by the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR.
In fact, most of the stations dispense petrol to consumers at between N100 and N150 per litre.
The petrol stations officially displayed N87 per litre on their machines but resort to the use of calculators to cost the products for the consuming public.
While some motorists in the area declined to buy into the sharp practice, others who succumb have accused the petrol stations of sabotaging government’s efforts to make fuel affordable and available to Nigerians.
Mr. Segun Aribisala, a motorist, urged the DPR to enforce compliance on erring petrol stations dispensing fuel above the official pump price in the area.
“These filling stations are capitalising on the location of Ikorodu on the outskirts of Lagos to sell at unofficial prices.
“During the NUPENG strike, some of these petrol stations sold fuel as high as N400 per litre, exploiting motorists and residents who had no alternative.
“Now that the strike is over and with directive to revert to the N87 pump price, they have remained adamant,” he said.
Also speaking, Mr Fatai Ajetunmobi, a commercial bus driver, said “the petrol scarcity has eased off as many petrol stations now have stock and are selling it.
“However, I doubt if we have up to fifteen petrol stations among the vast number of stations in Ikorodu that sell petrol at N87 per litre.
“That is the reason why we have long queues at those stations that are complying with the official N87 pump price,” he said.
He also blamed the hike in transport fares experienced by commuters in Ikorodu, to the inflated pump price of petrol stations in the area.
NAN reports that petrol stations owned by the independent marketers and some major marketers, are also involved in the sharp practice.
A petrol attendant at one of the major marketers’ stations at Kasolori, on the Ikorodu to Ijebu Ode road told NAN that they were selling at N125 per litre based on management’s instructions.
The scarcity of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS in Edo State has led most filling stations fixing their prices at between N100 and N150 per litre.
But in Benin City, the state capital, NNPC Mega Station located on Sapele Road and DVD, an independent marketer on Ikpoba Slope by Ewai Road, which witnessed long queues when the product was very scarce now have a few vehicles on the queue.
The product is however on sale in the major black market spots along Dawson Road, Uwasota Junction and BIU Junction in the Government Reserved Area, GRA, but for between N1,200-N1,500 per 10-litre jerry cans
Commercial activities which were grounded last week with commuters groaning under the hike in transport fares on inter and intra-city routes, have picked up as more vehicles which were off the road are back.
Commercial drivers are also charging regular fares of between N50 and N70 from Ring Road to Ugbiyokho, and N50 from Ring Road to Agbor Park instead of N100.
The current hike in the prices of petroleum products appears to be far from over in most parts of the nation including Nasarawa State, as the scarcity of product has continued to affect fuel pump price.
Investigation by Nigerian Pilot revealed that most of the filling stations in the state have remained locked due to non-availability of the product while others have sustained the sale of the product to consumers at high cost.
Our correspondent who visited some of the filling stations in Lafia, the state capital, reports that apart from the NNPC mega station which sells at the official pump price of N87 per litre, all the others sell the product at N130 per litre.
Long queues of motorists as a result of fuel scarcity still persist in Kaduna State thereby posing a lot of hardship to the residents in the state.
Some residents complained bitterly of the hike in fares and the difficulties the encounter in boarding cabs to various destinations.
However, major marketers such as Mobil petrol station and NIPCO Oil still dispense the products to motorists at the price of N87 per litre.
Independent marketers such as Shema and Kabeji filling stations sold fuel for N130, N140, N150 and even N160 per litre.

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