FG To Sanction Marketers Diverting Fuel As Queues Subside

FG To Sanction Marketers Diverting Fuel As Queues Subside

As fuel queues subside across filling stations, the Federal Government says it will sanction marketers hoarding and diverting Premium Motor Spirit.

The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority said on Tuesday that its men were moving around the country to ensure the fuel loaded at the depots was not hoarded or diverted by any individual for any reason.

This was as the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited warned against panic buying of PMS, saying the company has over 1.5 billion litres of the product in stock for the next 30 days.

In the past two weeks, Nigerians experienced fuel scarcity that forced the prices of petrol to skyrocket from an average of N650 to above N1,000 per litre in many filling stations.

During the period, the NNPCL in collaboration with the NMDPRA engaged in massive importation and distribution of the product to reduce the queues and restore normalcy.

Between Friday and Sunday, the NMDPRA disclosed that over 4,000 trucks distributed more than 300 million litres of fuel to retail outlets to make petrol available to Nigerians.

As of Tuesday, our correspondents observed that filling stations in Abuja, Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Sokoto and others are now selling fuel with little or no queues.

However, the prices in some stations have yet to return to what it used to be as many still sell a litre of PMS at prices between N700 and N900.

As the fuel circulates across the country, the spokesman for the NNPCL, Olufemi Soneye, in a statement, cautioned motorists and end-user customers against panic buying of petrol, assuring that it has over 1.5 billion litres in its reserve.

The statement read, “As the nationwide supply and distribution of Premium Motor Spirit, also known as petrol, continue to improve, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited has once again called on motorists to shun panic buying of the product.

“In filling stations monitored across several states, including Lagos and the FCT, the queues have since thinned out, a development that will keep improving daily in other states.

“The company wishes to state that at the moment, it has over 1.5 billion litres stock of PMS, which is equivalent to over 30 days sufficiency”.

Soneye stated that it was collaborating with relevant downstream agencies and security operatives to address hoarding issues.

“The NNPCL is also collaborating with relevant downstream agencies, such as the Nigeran Midstream & Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, labour unions in the sector and security operatives to address hoarding and other unwholesome practices,” the statement concluded.

Soneye had earlier accused marketers of hoarding and sharp practices, but the allegations were debunked by the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria.

Speaking with The PUNCH, the NMDPRA South-West Regional Coordinator, Ayo Cardoso, said any filling station caught hoarding the product would be made to sell to the public at the popular market price.

“We have said it repeatedly, nobody is allowed to hoard fuel. We are monitoring all the marketers and the filling stations. Everything is getting back to normal now. If you are caught hoarding, you will be forced to open your station and sell to the public at the market price. There is no point hoarding, there is fuel everywhere now. But if anyone is hoarding, we will ask the station to sell to the public. That is what we have been doing,” he stressed.

On the diversion of fuel for smuggling or other illegal purposes, Cardoso told one of our correspondents that anyone caught would face a sanction of N500/litre of all the quantity being diverted. This indicates that a customer who diverts a truck conveying 30,000 litres of petrol would be made to pay a fine of N15m once caught.

He added that fuel taken from the depots was being monitored through the manifest to ensure it gets to the right location.

“We are checking from the manifest to ensure that fuel taken from the depots gets to the right place but if you divert your product, we will know from the manifest, and they know there is a sanction against that. We monitor the manifest from the depot to the location. Once we catch them diverting, the penalty is N500 per litre of whatever quantity you are carrying. The marketers know.

“Diversion, we cannot say whether it is happening or not, but once we get them, we issue non-compliance notice to the marketers for them to explain. Once it is confirmed that you are diverting, you pay a penalty of N500/litre of the quantity diverted,” Cardoso noted.

Meanwhile, the leadership of IPMAN has instructed independent marketers to extend their operating time by two hours, until 9pm daily, to ensure sufficient fuel supply nationwide.

This was it confirmed that petroleum marketers in the Port Harcourt area of Rivers State received up to eight million litres of PMS on Tuesday.

The National Public Relations Officer of IPMAN, Chinedu Ukadike, revealed this directive during an interview with media source in Abuja.

Ukadike said the decision was taken at an emergency meeting organised to assess how far the recent moves have gone in addressing the scarcity of petroleum products across the country.

He said the new directive expected to remain till June 12, is part of efforts to rein in fuel scarcity and ensure availability of petroleum products before and during the democracy day celebration.

He said, “We have decided internal meeting to get our members acquainted with some of the best practices during this period under review and also to prepare them for the democracy day celebration that is coming. We have directed that nobody should hoard their petroleum product and we should extend our services instead of closing by 7 pm, we have asked that marketers close by 9 pm.

“This will enable us to expand and exhaust product received to ensure that there are no queues in the filling stations”.

Ukadike also emphasised that strict warnings have been issued, directing that nobody should hoard petroleum products or engage in profiteering.

According to him, hawkers and certain filling station managers involved in any sharp practices will be sanctioned thoroughly.

“We have also resolved to write the Inspector General of Police to provide security during this period so that Nigerians would have a fruitful and joyous Democracy Day celebration.

“And this we have discussed with our operational committee the National President has also set up to ensure that petroleum product is being discharged and people will take it accordingly and we would ward off profiteering, those hawkers and some filling station managers that engage in such practices.

On fuel availability, the national officer confirmed that fuel supply has improved drastically with prices expected to drop further.

“We have received improvement in supply although you would still see some ghost queues at filling stations in skeletal locations, but I also believe that by the time we pass through this week, everything will normalise.

“The price is also coming down. An adequate supply of petroleum products shrinks prices. The NNPCL has moved some quantity to Warri with their daughter vessel, but I don’t know how many litres were sent. I am also sure that independent marketers in Port Harcourt received at least 8 million litres today.

“Fuel supply will not automatically clear the system immediately, it would just take some time or some few days, but the issue is that people should stop panic buying,” he submitted.

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