The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) and other relevant organisations in the oil sector agreed Thursday to end the lingering fuel scarcity across the country in 48 hours.
Speaking to journalists in Abuja after a closed-door meeting with the State Security Service (SSS), the operators said depots would work seamlessly for 24 hours daily to end petroleum queues across the country.
Nigeria’s lingering fuel scarcity became worse in recent weeks as several filling stations failed to sell petroleum products. Operators of filling stations where petroleum products were available sold at prices higher than the government’s pump price.
The government initially claimed the problem was caused by flooding, but the shortage has continued long after floodwaters receded.
Daily, Nigerians queue for long hours at filling stations to buy petrol for their cars and generators. Others patronise vendors who sell petrol in gallons in the so-called black market.
The government has failed to act to end the shortage, repeatedly claiming that it has sufficient stock and that buyers should not panic.
However, speaking to journalists on Thursday, Clement Isong, the Executive Secretary, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, (MOMAN), said operators would ensure that they implement the decisions reached at the meeting.
“We did have a meeting in regards to the challenge to fuel distribution and they were confirmed as we also know that there is enough supply in the country,” he said.
Mr Isong said there have been some distribution challenges and these were discussed and certain decisions have been taken to enhance distribution.
“We do agree and believe that as these decisions are implemented the queues will subside and there will be a happy Christmas for everybody.
“We have committed to working with the NNPC to continuously improve operational efficiency to achieve operational excellence,” he said.
Also speaking, Umar Ajiya, NNPC’s chief financial officer, noted that “Indeed we had a meeting earlier and we have confirmed that in this country we have over 1.9 billion litres of petroleum motor spirit (PMS).
“We have also made procurement for suppliers of similar volume from now until the end of March after the election,” Mr Ayiya said.
He explained that a commitment was made at the meeting to continue selling the product at a price agreed with the regulator to all marketers especially the Independent Petroleum Marketers of Nigeria (IPMAN) members. He also pledged to provide avenues for depots to uptake to curtain the profiteering that they have experienced in some depots.
“We have also committed and directed our operation team to engage in 24 hours loading in the next couple of days, as well as to ensure that some outlet sells 24 hours without compromising safety and security in order to bring quick relief to Nigeria,” he said.
On his part, Femi Adewole, the Executive Secretary, of the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria, (DAPPMAN) blamed the challenge of sourcing foreign exchange as one of the reasons for the shortage.
“The challenges to marketers, especially depot owners, were explained and the meeting agreed and noted the forex component challenge and its input into our cost, which we should in all ideal cases recover reasonably. That was agreed upon.
“We also agreed that based on the assurances of products given to marketers, provided by NNPC, we will ensure that, going forward, all depots work 24 hours, based on the security risks appraised.
“We will work 24 hours to ensure that the queues in town are reduced. Our retail outlets, spread nationwide, will also ensure that they sell 24 hours based on our security situation appraised. I want to assure Nigerians that going forward, they will be able to get fuel in filling stations without too much hitch or harassment,” he said.
In his remarks, Akporeha William, the president National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), said it will mobilise all its members across the country to be all ready to move products across the country and again to shun sharp malpractices like redirecting petroleum products to where they are not supposed to go.
“I think this is necessary because where products are meant to go they will continue to be moved to the place.
“And again, we request our tanker drivers to please be on alert and ensure too that they will drive 24 hours to mobilise petroleum products across the country,” he said.
READ ALSO: SSS says NNPC, marketers have 48 hours to end fuel scarcity
Speaking earlier, Farouk Ahmed, the NMDPRA, Authority’s Chief Executive, said “This is to give comfort to Nigerians that the issue of supply and distribution has been addressed.
“We’ve heard from all the stakeholders on each of their commitments to ensuring adequate supply and distribution of petroleum products. And they re-emphasised that the commitment is to take effect within 48 hours.
“So we are hoping that with the efficiency in the distribution, both by marine and trucking, in the next 48 hours the commitments will really start and hopefully we will see a positive environment, away from the difficult situation we are experiencing across the nation,” he said.
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