Fuel scarcity and long queues at filling stations returned to the streets of Abuja, the Federal Capital City (FCT) yesterday.
The alleged indebtedness of the Federal Government has crippled the marketers’ effective procurement and distribution capacity, it was learnt last night.
According to the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), the government was owing more than N100 billion in overdue bridging payments.
They alleged that the N100 billion debt due on procured petrol by the defunct Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF), now Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), has not been paid despite persistent demand.
IPMAN’s National Vice President Alhaji Abubakar Maigandi, said the unpaid debts have resulted in cash constraints, which he said was hampering members’ capacity to procure more products.
According to him, the re-emerging petrol scarcity “has just started and it will continue”.
He lamented that for over 12 months, PEF (now NMDPRA) has not paid any money to the marketers.
The marketers, he noted, are in a dilemma as they cannot procure any product since their fund is held down in NMDPRA.
He said: “It means the scarcity has started because the PEF is not paying. For 12 months there has been no payment.
“Marketers cannot lift the product because there is no money. The PEF is owing over N100 billion, which is outstanding.
“The marketers are in a serious dilemma now as there is no money to purchase the product since the money is already in the custody of PEF.”
The scarcity, which began in the FCT last week, resulted in long queues at the filling stations yesterday.
Most of the retail outlets were under lock and key while endless queues besieged the few ones that were opened to customers.
The Nation observed that black marketers returned to the streets selling in plastic cans at an average of N2, 500 per 10 litres.
The product’s pump price remained at N165 per litre.
Attempts by this reporter to reach the NMDPRA’s Public Affairs, General Manager, Mr Apollo Kimchi was unsuccessful as he could not be reached on the phone.
He also did not respond to the text message that sought his Authority’s part of the story.
But the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Ltd’s Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Malam Garba Deen Muhammad, said petrol was not scarce but there were just queues.
Speaking with The Nation on phone, he promised to return the call to inform The Nation of the cause of the situation but at press time, he did not respond.
“It is the queue you are seeing not scarcity. There is no scarcity. If you say there are queues, you are right but there is no scarcity. Let me get back to you but there is no scarcity,” Muhammad said.