ShareFuel scarcity has been one of the serious nightmares being faced by motorists and other fuel consumers in the country. Most of the time, the scarcity is blamed on the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Fuel consumers, rightly or wrongly believe that the NNPC act of commission or omission has the tendency to affect the availability of fuel such as Premium Motor Spirit, (PMS) popularly known as petrol, diesel and kerosene to the end users.
In the past, the monster of fuel scarcity was let loose on the hapless consumers to the extent that most consumers of the products had to sleep at the petrol stations for days before they could get the product to buy.
To make matters worse, motorists and other consumers of fuel buy fuel in jerry cans and keep it in the booths of their vehicles or keep the cans in the house to ensure they have the products for quite a number of days.
What resulted from theses practices of keeping fuel in booths and homes was disaster as fire outbreaks led to cases of motor accidents and destruction of lives and property at homes.
In the last two years, these practices have practically stopped as consumers don’t have to horde fuel for any reason, courtesy of effective fuel distribution channel established by the NNPC. Now, it’s a matter of going to the fuel station and buying whatever quantity of fuel being demanded.
Though a milder form of fuel scarcity was witnessed in some parts of the country last year, investigation conducted by the Nigerian Tribune however, revealed that where fuel scarcity occurred, the on-going fuel subsidy removal debate was a causative factor.
In Lagos, some filling stations refused to sell fuel outright, leading to a long queue of motorists, while the filling stations, which claimed to have the product, resorted to the use of only one pump out of many to dispense fuel, a situation that added to the pain of motorists, who scrambled for the product.
According to the Nigerian Tribune findings, these marketers resorted to hoarding of fuel on the premise that the Federal Government would not go back on its decision to remove the fuel subsidy and that after the Christmas holidays, they would jack up the price to make multiple gains.
An official of Forte Oil Plc, in his reaction to the fuel scarcity saga, disclosed that there was enough fuel at Mosimi depot of NNPC which ordinarily would not have caused any hoarding and panic buying of the product.
The DPR Public Relations Manager, Mr. Paul Osu, also corroborated this assertion, stressing that there was no basis for fuel hoarding as the nation had enough stock of the product, adding that if any marketer engaged in hoarding, he would eventually be the loser at the end.
Osu cannot see the basis of hoarding the product as there was enough fuel, stressing that most of these marketers who borrowed money from banks to buy the fuel would lose their investments if they resorted to hoarding fuel.
The lawmakers, worried by the long queues in some filling stations in the country orchestrated by the fear of the removal of oil subsidy by the Federal Government, had to summon the Petroleum Minister, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency, (PPPRA) to come and explain the cause or causes as the case may be.
The lawmakers, who expressed concern over the matter on the floor of the House, also condemned the ugly trend which was said to have been caused by oil marketers.
In their resolution, the lawmakers called on the Federal Government to quickly bring the situation under control in order not to make Nigerians believe that the scarcity was caused as part of government’s resolve to remove fuel subsidy by all means.
On the part of the corporation, it has for a very long time identified some of the marketers as a cog in the wheel of progress as far as making fuel constantly available to the end users is concerned. To reduce the influence of marketers, the NNPC on its own established mega station across the nooks and crannies of the country.
Under a special arrangement, the NNPC also took over some filling stations owned by independent marketers and made them NNPC branded station.
The establishment of NNPC mega station by the Group Managing Director of the Corporation, Austen Oniwon and his crop of dedicated staffers really paid off, not only was the monster of fuel scarcity caged once and for all, fuel consumers were also able to buy fuel at the government controlled price of about N65 per litre.
Where and when fuel scarcity occurs despite the measures put in place by the NNPC to curb the menace, the corporation is always ahead of the situation, stepping up supply of petroleum products as the case may be.
When there are speculations that the delay in the release of the fourth quarter allocations for 2011 may led to fuel scarcity in the country. the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs at the NNPC, Dr. Levi Ajuonuma, dismissed the reports, explaining that the observed panic-induced fuel queues in Abuja had nothing to do with shortage in supply of petroleum products, stressing that marketers and private depot owners are being adequately supplied with products.
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How NNPC tamed fuel scarcity in 2011