By Yunus Yusuf
An oil and gas merchant, Capt. Emmanuel Iheanacho, has attributed the persistent scarcity of petrol to monopoly of the product by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Iheanacho, also the Chairman, Integrated Oil and Gas Ltd., told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Tuesday that the inability of NNPC to create a window for private importers to import petrol also contributed to the scarcity.
According to him, the current shortage in fuel importation gap was caused by the landing cost margin of N171 per litre and the selling cost pegged at N 145 per litre.
Iheanacho said that this was not realistic for marketers to import and sell at that rate.
“The selling of the product at N145 per litre is no longer feasible with the current exchange rate.
“Shortage of foreign exchange and increase in crude prices have made it unprofitable to import petrol and sell same at N145 per litre.
“The problem is that importation of petrol is being handled, almost 100 per cent, by NNPC, while private importers backed out because the increase in crude price has made the landing cost high,” he said.
Iheanacho said that the marketers’ huge debts of over N800 billion had also contributed to their inability to import petrol.
He said that most independent marketers had closed their companies due to inability to pay their workers.
Iheanacho urged the Federal Government to settle all the outstanding debts owed marketers since 2015.
According to him, commercial banks have started taken over the property and tank farms of some companies that could not pay back their loans.
NAN reports that loading of petrol had commenced in Apapa.
Visit to Apapa on Tuesday showed that hundreds of trucks were on queue waiting to load the product at Total, Forte Oil, Oando Plc, MRS, NIPCO and other private depots.
NAN Correspondent who monitored the fuel situation in Lagos metropolis reports that long queues of motorists still persist in many filling stations in the metropolis.
In areas like Ikorodu, Epe, Ibeju-Lekki, Oshodi, Ajegunle, Ikotun, Bariga and Sango-Ota, some stations were still selling petrol between N180 and N200 per litre.
In Ikorodu area, many filling stations were selling at N200 per litre, while only few were selling at the official price.
Commercial bus operators increased their fares by more than 100 per cent, claiming that they bought petrol above the official price of N145 per litre.
NAN reports that the transport fare from Ikorodu Garage to CMS has increased from between N300 and N350 before the scarcity, to N1000.
Also, from Epe to Ketu, passengers were being charged N1,500 against the N700 they were charging before the scarcity, while the fare from Ketu to Costain climbed to between N300 and N500.