NUPENG talks tough, serves petrol marketers strike notice over price hike

The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, has issued the petroleum products marketers 24 hours to revert to the official depots’ price of petrol or risk unpleasant consequences.

NUPENG issued the warning on Saturday.

However, top sources in the union revealed to FirstNews that a nationwide strike was being considered as one of the moves to protest what the NUPENG regards as the Sherlock’s attitude of the marketers.

A statement signed by the Union’s President and General Secretary, Prince William Akporeha and Afolabi Olawale, respectively, said that unscrupulous Marketers were selling Premium Motor Spirit (Petrol) from the depots at prices far above the official rate, aimed at forcing illegal increases in the pump price.

NUPENG threatened to name and shame the affected marketers if they continued with their illegal action targeted at worsening the woes of Nigerians.

Part of the statement read, “Our attention and empathy have been drawn to the harrowing experiences and pains of Nigerians due to the exploitative and unscrupulous activities and tendencies of Petroleum Products Marketers who are taking advantage of the seeming gaps and teething challenges in the implementation of Petroleum Industry Act to enrich themselves at the expense of the Country and the people.

“It is an undeniable fact that the Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, is still under subsidy regime, and we find it disheartening and worrisome that these unscrupulous Marketers are selling Petrol from the depots at prices far above the official rate.

“We are giving these Marketers twenty-four (24) hours with effect from midnight of Sunday, 27th February, 2022 to revert to official rate or we shall name and shame them as public enemies aside from other sanctions.”

NUPENG also directed its officials in all our zones to compile lists of petrol stations hoarding products during the day and selling at night at exorbitant rates for possible sanctions.

“These also include Petroleum Products depots that may want to be hoarding products because of our decision on this matter.”

Meanwhile, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Ltd. has again assured Nigerians that it had distributed petroleum products nationwide, to resolve the fuel scarcity that has lingered for weeks.

The NNPC said this in a late Friday statement by GarbaDeen Muhammad, the group general manager, group public affairs division of the NNPC

The corporation urged Nigerians to be patient, saying it had sufficient stock of petroleum products for distribution across the country.

It said it was engaging depot operators to load products round the clock to accelerate the restoration of normal distribution.

The federal government had said methanol, a chemical additive, found in recently imported fuel exceeded Nigeria’s specification.

The development has resulted in a shortage of petrol and queues reappearing in major cities including Abuja and Lagos.

The scarcity worsened last week across many cities, as many struggled to go to work or engage in other daily routines.

Gridlocks appeared across major parts of Abuja as many service lanes were closed to traffic owing to queues from petrol stations.

The NNPC had last week assured Nigerians that the company had placed significant orders of over 2.1 billion litres of methanol-free petroleum to ensure that the long queues of petroleum end in a few days.

The statement read, “NNPC Ltd once again assures Nigerians that it has sufficient stock of Petroleum Products for distribution across the country and is working assiduously with partners to ensure the product reaches every part of the country.

“NNPC is further intensifying efforts to resolve distribution hitches being experienced in some parts of the country due to logistics issues.

“To this effect, NNPC is engaging depot operators to load products round the clock to accelerate the restoration of normal distribution.

“NNPC has also engaged the services of Government Security Agencies to ensure that all products loaded get to the right destination.

“We urge Nigerians to continue to be patient as we strive to return the situation to normalcy,” it added.

As the ding-dong persists, however, most fuel stations in Abuja are still clogged with vehicles and long queues as petrol scarcity continues to bite harder in the FCT.

Newsmen who monitored the situation at the federal capital on Saturday, found that long queues were at fuel stations as early as 5 a.m.

Fuel stations belonging to major marketers and those belonging to the state NNPC had long queues stretching to the highways in some cases.

Some motorists expressed worries and anxiety as to the day the scarcity would end.

One of them, Mr Ifeanyi Chukwudi, a motorist, blamed the NNPC for not explaining to Nigerians the reason behind the fuel scarcity even after promising to inject 2.1 billion litres of petrol into the system by the end of February.

“Today is Feb. 26; the queue in Abuja is unprecedented since the coming of this administration; we have not witnessed such queues; so what is responsible? The NNPC should explain,’’ he said.

Mr Biola Akande, a taxi driver said he got to the fuel station as early as 5 a.m., but met a long queue, adding that such development would not augur well for the country and the economy.

He urged the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency provide a lasting solution that would end the long queue.

On February 16, Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mr Mele Kyari, promised that the scarcity would end by the end of February.

He made the promise before the House of Representatives Committee on NNPC (Downstream), investigating circumstances surrounding the importation of adulterated fuel into the country.

The current fuel scarcity had been blamed on the importation of adulterated petrol and the withdrawal of same after it had damaged many vehicles.

Long queues at filling stations in Kaduna on Saturday resurfaced after the perceived increase in petrol supply suffered a lapse.

There had been an epileptic supply of petrol from Monday through Thursday to most filling stations across the state but from Friday, there seemed to be no supply at all.

Most filling stations that sold fuel from Monday to Thursday were forced to lock up their filling stations due to non-supply of fuel.

The manager of the Oando filling station located along Kachia Road, Kaduna, Mr Daniel Madaki, said they were only supplied petrol once.

“It took a long time for us to get fuel from them. As they supplied the first tank of fuel on Monday, we expected them to repeat same on Wednesday, but till this moment, we have not heard from them,” he said.

Some car owners said they spent five to six hours waiting for fuel, but, all their efforts were in vain, as most of them parked their cars and left.

“I have been in EdiJane filling station for seven hours, the manager told us that they are expecting fuel, but till now, we have not seen anything,” one of them told this medium.

According to him, some impatient car owners resorted to buying from black marketers at exorbitant prices.

Although some commuters pleaded with the Federal Government to ease the cost of transportation, they vowed that it’s better for them to stay at home, than to spend their life savings on transportation.

Madam Rhoda Adamu said it was a thing of joy from Monday through Wednesday as the cost of transportation had reduced, but she was surprised to see long queues resurface.

She appealed to the government to urgently do something about fuel scarcity to reduce the suffering of the masses.

“We are suffering in this country. We are faced with exorbitant costs of foodstuff, insecurity, unemployment, poor environment, and now, we can’t move because there is no fuel. Even if you are to move, be ready to pay above normal transport fare,” she lamented.

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