Long queues of motorists at the weekend resurfaced in filling stations in Lagos following the inability of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to ensure sustained supply of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), otherwise called petrol in all parts of the country at the same time.
THISDAY gathered that though the scarcity eased at the early part of last week in Lagos, the relative stability in supply, it was learnt, was not caused by any significant improvement in importation but by the concentration of supply to Lagos and Abuja, leaving other parts of the country.
Investigations revealed that contrary to the promises made by the private Oil Marketing and Trading (OM &T) companies to ship cargoes into the country last week, the marketers still depended largely on cargoes imported by the Pipelines Products and Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of the NNPC.
The Executive Secretary of the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Mr. Thomas Olawore, had assured listeners that the major marketers would import four cargoes last week.
But THISDAY gathered that apart from MT Centurion, carrying 23,000metric tonnes of PMS, translating to about 600 trucks, which were imported by NIPCO Plc, no other marketer shipped any cargo into Lagos last week.
The NIPCOâ€™s vessel, which discharged its products within three days, berthed at North Oil Jetty (NOJ).
The NNPC, through the PPMC, however brought in another vessel, MT Kariton, which finished discharging its products on Friday. With the inadequate stock of PMS in Lagos, most of the depots ration products to trucks that lift to filling stations.
It was gathered that only Capital Oil and NIPCO Plc still engaged in full loading to trucks while MRS and Folawiyo were rationing supply due to what one of the marketers described as â€œlow stock.â€
â€œNIPCO and Capital are the only depots loading fully. Others are rationing because no depot will want to stop loading completely. Some trucks have tickets in some of these depots since the past three weeks but they have not been given products,â€ he said.
The NNPC has consistently promised that there is adequate supply, but the Zonal Chairman of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas (NUPENG) workers, Alhaji Tokunbo Korodo, whose association comprises mostly of Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD), told THISDAY that the products available were not enough to go round the country.
â€œThe Minister of Petroleum came to Lagos and told you people that they have enough fuel but I told you that they donâ€™t have enough. The secret is that they concentrated loading to Lagos and Abuja because these two places attract more attention and sympathy. That was why queues reduced in Lagos and Abuja but other states were suffering.
â€œWhat happened was that 60 per cent of the trucks loading in Lagos were sent to Lagos and Abuja to discharge and it reduced queues in Lagos and Abuja. Ejigbo depot, for instance, is loading to only Lagos and Abuja. It is not that there was improvement in supply because the marketers given allocation are yet to bring cargoes,â€ he said.