Fuel queues persisted in the Federal Capital Territory on Monday as filling stations struggled to control desperate drivers waiting to buy the Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, at the official price.
Racketeers had a field day, selling a litre of PMS at N300 in different parts of the FCT.
In Kubwa, a litre of fuel went as high as N320, rising to N400 in Asokoro and other prime parts of Abuja, The PUNCH gathered.
One of the racketeers, who identified himself as Usman, said he stored fuel in several gallons, with the belief that fuel would be scarce at some point in the future.
Another racketeer, Bala, claimed that he was still selling his reserves.
“When there is scarcity, I buy from some filling stations at night. I usually pay extra N200 or more for a 10-litre gallon. I buy at N 2000 and sell N3,500,” he said.
Vehicle drivers told The Punch that they spent between two and four hours at various filling stations before buying PMS.
A commercial vehicle driver, George Akinsanya, said he spent three hours at Oando Filling Station opposite the NNPC depot in Abuja before buying the PMS.
Akinsanya said, “We need to find a solution to this perennial problem of fuel scarcity. It is looking like filling stations are looking for this type of opportunity to make money. Last time there was fuel scarcity, they sold at higher prices at night and limit sales to one or two pumps in the day.”
A driver, Mr Udoka Uzondu, who said he waited to buy PMS at an NNPC depot in Abuja, urged the government to put an end to the scarcity to reduce the plight of the common man.”
Fuel queues have become a recurring decimal in Nigeria, especially the FCT. In the first quarter of the year, fuel scarcity disrupted economic activities, leading to an increase in inflation to 15.92 per cent, from 15.70 per cent.
The PUNCH reported on Monday that most filling stations in Abuja and neighbouring states of Nasarawa and Niger that dispensed Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, were on Sunday greeted with long queues.
It was observed that many other outlets were shut as they claimed not to have products to dispense, a development that led to the crowding of the filling stations that dispensed the commodity.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has ascribed the sudden appearance of fuel queues in parts of Abuja to low loadouts and increased purchases that characterise post-holiday periods.
In a statement, the spokesman for NNPC, Garba Deen Muhammad, said on Monday that the company had sufficient fuel supplies to satisfy the demands of Abuja residents for over six weeks.
The statement partly read in part, “The NNPC Ltd notes the sudden appearance of fuel queues in parts of Abuja. This is very likely due to low loadouts at depots which usually happen during long public holidays, in this case, the Sallah celebrations.
“Another contributing factor to the sudden appearances of queues is the increased fuel purchases which are also usual with returning residents of the FCT from the public holidays.”
He further said the NNPC and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, in conjunction with our marketing partners, had taken necessary measures to ramp up loadouts from all depots.
He assured all residents of the FCT and Nigerians that NNPC had ample local supplies and national stock in excess of 2.5 billion liters, with the sufficiency of more than 43 days.
“The NNPC Limited hereby advises motorists not to engage in panic buying as supplies are adequate as will become increasingly evident in the coming days.”
But the Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for Promotion of Private Enterprise, Dr Muda Yusuf, urged the Federal Government to deregulate the industry to avoid long queue recurrences.