By Milcah Tanimu
Petrol filling stations in Abuja and neighboring Nasarawa and Niger States have been witnessing prolonged queues, and oil marketers assert that the inadequate supply of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL) is the primary cause.
Contrary to the marketers’ claim, NNPCL, the exclusive importer of the product, rejects this explanation, attributing the queues in affected areas, especially Abuja, to a “price war.”
The persisting queues for petrol in Abuja and surrounding states, as well as some South-East and South-South states, have endured for several weeks.
Chief Ukadike Chinedu, the National Public Relations Officer of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, stated, “The queues have continued because there is an insufficient supply of products. If we have enough products, it will bring down these acts of profiteering among marketers.”
He added, “It is when the products become very difficult to access that is when you start to see cases of profiteering. But if everywhere is littered with products, you won’t experience what we are seeing now.”
Ukadike highlighted the delayed arrival of promised PMS vessels at various locations, including Warri, Lagos, and Calabar, as contributing to the current situation.
The official noted that private depot owners raised product costs, leading to a surge in petrol prices at retail outlets. Despite NNPCL’s assurances of forthcoming vessels, the exact arrival dates were undisclosed.
Ukadike emphasized the importance of timely product supply, especially as the Christmas season approaches. He mentioned, “But they (NNPCL) have assured us that there will be enough products during the Christmas period,” though no specific arrival information was provided.
Addressing the disparity in pump prices, Ukadike remarked, “The N640/litre price in Abuja is cheap when compared to the N660/litre average price in the South-East. In fact, in Owerri, Imo State, it is N670 and in Anambra, it is N700/litre.”
While acknowledging the low supply as a factor, Mohammed Shuaibu, the Secretary of IPMAN, Abuja-Suleja, suggested that the queues could also be attributed to the upcoming festive season. He called for government intervention to ensure adequate product availability and prevent profiteering during this period.
NNPCL’s Chief Corporate Communications Officer, Olufemi Soneye, countered the marketers’ claims, stating that the recent tightness in Abuja was essentially a price war. He explained, “Motorists would rather queue at filling stations that offer lower prices than others.”
Observations revealed queues not only at NNPCL stations but also at Conoil and Total filling stations across Abuja and its neighboring states, reflecting a broader challenge in the region’s fuel supply.