Fuel scarcity paralyses businesses nationwide

Fuel ScarcityMost fuel stations across the country have run dry. And there is nothing in stock. The implication: Businesses are crippled and the nation is run aground barely six days to a constitutional change of government.

As the fuel scarcity cripples vehicular movements across major cities like Lagos and Abuja, business activities are equally paralysed. With no fuel to dispense, many stations have been put under lock and key, while the essential commodity now sells for over N200 per litre at the thriving black market.

Following a resolution of the Senate on Thursday, Committees on Petroleum Resources (Upstream and Downstream) yesterday summoned Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and her Petroleum Ministry counterpart, Diezani Alison-Madueke over the lingering fuel scarcity in the country.

Also invited by the joint committee are Group Managing Director of NNPC, Managing Director PPMC, Director DPR, PPPRA, MOMAN (Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria) IPMAN (Independent Marketers Association of Nigeria and NARTO (National Association of Road Transport Owners).

Joint chairmen of the committees, Senators Paulker Emmanuel and Magnus Abe signed the invitation to all the stakeholders in the oil industry.

A part of the invitation reads: “On Thursday, May 21, Senator Abdul Ningi drew the attention of the Senate to the lingering fuel scarcity in the country and the untold hardship on the generality of Nigerians.

“He urged Senate to look into the matter with a view to finding the causes and lasting solution to the problem. In view of this, the Senate directed its Committees on Downstream Petroleum sector and Petroleum Resources (Upstream) to investigate the matter and report back on Tuesday, May 26.
“The Joint Committee on Downstream Petroleum sector and Petroleum Resource Upstream is therefore inviting the Honourable Minister of Petroleum Resources, Group Managing Director of NNPC, Managing Director PPMC, Director DPR, PPPRA MOMAN (Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria) IPMAN (Independent Marketers Association of Nigeria and NARTO (National Association of Road Transport Owners) to a meeting on Monday May 25, at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja.”

The committee’s report, it was gathered, is expected to be submitted to the Senate for deliberation at Tuesday plenary.

Confirming the planned meeting, Executive Secretary of DAPPMA, Mr. Oluwole Adewole, stated that the association has received an invitation from the Senate for a meeting on Monday on the cause of the current fuel scarcity.

‘‘For us at DAPPMA, we are not on strike but the challenge we have is that we don’t have petroleum products at our depots and the tanker drivers have said they cannot continue to come to the depots without lifting products,’’ he explained. Adewole said the money that MOMAN is requesting for were borrowed funds from banks, which have accumulated interest over time, hence, there was the need for government to clear the outstanding debt.

Meanwhile the perennial fuel scarcity has assumed another dimension with petrol selling for over N200 a litre.

Indeed, the development has further compounded the traffic situation in La¬gos and Abuja as the few filling stations that have the product had long queues of motorists as at yesterday.

Recall that MOMAN had last week, said that the current fuel scarcity in the country might persist beyond May 29, if the Federal Government failed to pay their outstanding claims on subsidy.

Olawore had said that the outstanding payment on subsidy and interest remained unpaid by government and this had led to its members’ inability to import petroleum products in the last few days.

According to him, the scarcity may also persist beyond the hand over date that will usher in the administration of Gen Muhammadu Buhari. Because of the huge outstanding that we have; because we have not been able to pay back the loan we have taken, because our suppliers are not too confident, we are unable to bring fresh import.

“Whatever we have now is what we have received from NNPC and it is the small quantity that we have from NNPC , that is why you see all the trucks in Lagos scrambling for them”, he added.
Olawore stressed unless the over N200 billion that the government owed both MOMAN and DAPPMA was paid, scarcity might persist beyond May 29.

Finance Minister and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had on May 3, said the Federal Government was not owing the marketers up to N200 billion.

She said that after paying the marketers N154 billion a week earlier, the government was only aware of N131 billion outstanding payment.

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