I hope we won't return to the past. Petrol dealers in the South-West geopolitical zone of Nigeria, over 3,000 of them, under the aegis of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria have threatened to stop dispensing fuel in their various outlets this week. In fact, it was learnt that many of the marketers had stopped dispensing fuel since last week when they exhausted their stock and refused to lift new product because they could no longer afford to run the business at a loss.
The IPMAN Chairman in the South-West, Mr. Debo Ahmed, lamented that private depot owners were selling the product at an exorbitant price. He said, “The result of this is that about 90 per cent of our members who can no longer continue with the business, have already stopped lifting fuel while the remaining 10 per cent have threatened to also close down their stations if nothing was done to remedy the situation this (last) week.
“Unfortunately we cannot sell above the pump price of N145 per litre in the South-West if we don’t want to incur the wrath of the Department of Petroleum Resources. Our colleagues in the North, South-East and South-South are running their own businesses because they are selling above the pump price.”
Ahmed urged the Federal Government to fully deregulate the petroleum sector so that individuals could buy and sell the product at a price considerate enough to keep everyone in business.
Another executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Punch that his members bought fuel at N145 from private depots in Apapa, Ejigbo, and Oghara.
According to him, the non-availability of the product at depots owned by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation for some years has compounded the problem.
He said, “We decided not to cause panic by not openly announcing our intention to stop lifting fuel. The people will start feeling the effect as from Monday if the government fails to do anything about it. We have held series of meetings with the owners of private depots to reduce their price but they refused, claiming that it would affect their business too.
“I am still running some of my stations because I have my own trucks. I bought fuel at N143 per litre at a private depot in Apapa and would transport a litre with N6 to Akure and other towns. This means I am running at a loss because I have to sell at N145, being the official pump price. I am doing this just to keep the stations running. I usually load eight trucks. But I load just two now.”
The IPMAN Chairman, Ore Depot branch, Mr. Shina Amao, also confirmed the development and attributed the problem to the non-functional state of NNPC-owned depots where the product could be bought at N133.38k.