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Fuel Scarcity: Commuters Stranded, Fares Rise

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  • Fuel Scarcity: Commuters Stranded, Fares Rise

Commuters, motorists and other users of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) faced tougher conditions on Tuesday as the latest round of fuel scarcity in the country got worse, with its attendant negative impacts on transportation and businesses.

Some frustrated Nigerians narrated to our correspondents their ordeals while trying to get petrol at the few filling stations that were selling the product in Lagos, Ogun, Abuja and Owerri.

Our correspondent who visited the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation depot in Ejigbo, Lagos, learnt that only 28 tankers loaded PMS on Tuesday, down from between 40 and 50 tankers daily before the scarcity began, while many private depots in Apapa were still without the product.

Commuters were seen at many bus-stops struggling to get commercial vehicles to different destinations, even as transport operators increased the fares by as much as 100 per cent on most routes.

The long queues of desperate motorists at some filling stations in parts of Lagos spilled onto the roads and caused gridlock, making commuters to suffer more pain.

A commercial vehicle driver, Mr. Obinna Jonathan, said, “We don’t know where this country is heading to because we experience fuel scarcity every year, especially in December. Since morning, I have been looking for fuel. Even yesterday (Monday), I know how I struggled to get N3,000 worth of fuel, which I used to convey passengers.

“It is really affecting my work because as a commercial driver, if I don’t have fuel in my vehicle, I can’t work; I am not going to put water in the tank. The government should really look into this issue because we are suffering in this country. I am even tired of this country; if I see a way to get out of this country, my brother, I will just vanish from Nigeria. Believe me, we are suffering in this country.”

Another transporter, Mr. Muftau Badmus, who was seen pouring petrol from a jerry can into his tricycle at Cele Bus-Stop, along the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, said he got to a filling station at around 5:30am and did not get fuel until around 2pm.

“I have told myself that after using up the fuel I bought today, I won’t come out tomorrow. The government should help us to solve this scarcity because the poor people are the ones suffering now. All the government people are not suffering but we that voted for them are the ones feeling the pain,” he lamented.

With sweat running down her face as she sat in her car waiting at a filling station along Okota Road to get petrol, Mrs. Kate Chukwu did not hide her frustration over the situation in the country.

She said, “I have been in the queue for over one and half hours just to get fuel. It is really outrageous and frustrating that we even have to pay an extra N200 to get the fuel. It is really bad because now I am supposed to be at home cooking, but I am here waiting to get fuel.

“Last Sunday, in my church, they said we should pray for our country. But I refused to pray because I know that my prayer cannot solve Nigeria’s problems; we have a lot of things that are not in order.”

A motorist, Mr. Sunday Isong, said the struggle to get petrol had disrupted his plan to travel to Cross River.

He stated, “Today, I am very confused and tired; I have been running up and down the whole day to get fuel. My car stopped at a particular point because of fuel. I started moving up and down with a jerry can, looking for fuel. I was eventually able to buy five litres of fuel for N1,200, which I put in the car to enable me to run around to see where I can get more fuel.

“I don’t know what is happening in this country. In some stations, they are not selling to vehicles but to those with jerry cans so that they can get extra money. The government should quickly do something about this. Our country has crude oil; so I don’t know what is causing fuel scarcity.”

Mr. Yemi Adewole, who runs a laundry business, alleged that many of the filling stations had the product but were reducing the rate at which they sold it so as to profiteer from the situation.

Meanwhile, the Department of Petroleum Resources said in a statement that it had come to its notice that some depot owners were selling PMS to unlicensed bulk buyers and some retailers at prices above the approved ex-depot prices, adding that some retail outlets were hoarding the product or selling at above the industry-set cap price.

The Zonal Operations Controller, Lagos, DPR, Mr. Wole Akinyosoye, said, “These actions are clear violations of the Petroleum Act, 1969 and extant regulations, and they exacerbate the current supply challenges by bringing unnecessary hardships on the consumers.”

He added that the agency had been punishing the errant operators and warned that penalties would be imposed on any operator engaging in illicit acts.

“We are also assuring the public that the government is doing everything to ensure the restoration of normalcy to the sector,” he added.

In Owerri, the Imo State capital, a litre of petrol sold for N200 on Tuesday instead of the approved price of N145.

This is even as the prices of goods and services, especially transportation fares, have increased by between 80 per cent and 100 per cent.

Most residents of the city called on the Federal Government, through the DPR and the state’s Ministry of Petroleum Resources, to caution the independent petroleum marketers in the state.

A commercial driver in Owerri, who gave his name as Johnson Emmason, flayed the owners of filling stations in the state for what he called arbitrary increase in the pump price.

Meanwhile, the NNPC said on Tuesday that it had started releasing 470 trucks of PMS to Abuja and Lagos despite the persistent queues for the product by motorists at the few filling stations that dispensed it.

In Abuja and neighbouring states of Kaduna and Nasarawa, the queues for petrol persisted on Tuesday, as hundreds of motorists struggled to get the product.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Economy

Electricity Consumers Get 611,231 Meters Under MAP Scheme

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Electricity Consumers Get 611,231 Meters Under MAP Scheme

A total of 611,231 meters have been deployed as at January 31, 2021 under the Meter Asset Provider initiative since its full operation despite the COVID-19 pandemic and other extraneous factors, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission has said.

NERC disclosed this in a consultation paper on the review of the MAP Regulations.

The proposed review of the MAP scheme is coming nearly four months after the Federal Government launched a new initiative called National Mass Metering Programme aimed at distributing six million meters to consumers free of charge.

“The existence of a huge metering gap and the need to ensure successful implementation of the MYTO 2020 Service-Based Tariff resulted in the approval of the NMMP, a policy of the Federal Government anchored on the provision of long-term low interest financing to the Discos,” NERC said.

The commission had in March 2018 approved the MAP Regulations with the aim of fast-tracking the closure of the metering gap in the sector through the engagement of third-party investors (called meter asset providers) for the financing, procurement, supply, installation and maintenance of meters.

It set a target of providing meters to all customers within three years, and directed the Discos and the approved MAPs to commence the rollout of meters not later than May 1, 2019.

But in February 2020, NERC said several constraints, including changes in fiscal policy and the limited availability of long-term funding, had led to limited success in meter rollout.

NERC, in the consultation paper, highlighted three proposed options for metering implementation going forward.

The first option is to allow the implementation of both the NMMP and MAP metering frameworks to run concurrently; the second is to continue with the current MAP framework with meters procured under the NMMP supplied only through MAPs (by being off-takers from the local manufacturers/assemblers).

The third option is to wind down the MAP framework and allow the Discos to procure meters directly from local manufacturers/assemblers (or as procured by the World Bank), and enter into new contracts for the installation and maintenance of such meters.

“Customers who choose not to wait to receive meters based on the deployment schedule of the NMMP shall continue to have the option of making upfront payments for meters which will be installed within a maximum period of 10 working days,” NERC said.

The regulator said such customers would be refunded by the Discos through energy credits, adding that there would be no option for meter acquisition through the payment of a monthly meter service charge.

“Where meters have already been deployed under the meter service charge option, Discos shall make one-off repayment to affected customers and associated MAPs. Such meters shall be recognised in the rate base of the Discos,” it added.

NERC urged stakeholders to provide comments, objections, and representations on the proposed amendments within 21 days of the publication of the consultation paper.

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Economy

Nigeria’s Economy Moving in Right Direction but Slow – Amina Mohammed

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Nigeria’s Economy Moving in Right Direction but Slow – Amina Mohammed

Nigeria is moving in the right direction economically but its movement is not fast, the United Nations stated on Thursday.

Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed, said this during a meeting at the headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment in Abuja.

She said the challenges in Nigeria were huge, its population large but described the country’s economy as great with lots of opportunities.

The UN scribe stated that after traveling by train and through various roads in the Northern parts of Nigeria, she discovered that the roads were motorable, although there were ongoing repairs on some of them.

Mohammed said, “This is a country that is diverse in nature, ethnicity, religious backgrounds and opportunities. But these are its strengths, not weaknesses.

“And I think the narrative for Nigeria has to change to one that is very much the reality.”

Speaking on her trips across parts of Nigeria, she said, “What I saw along the way is really a country that is growing, that is moving in the right direction economically. Is it fast enough? No. Is it in the right direction? Yes it is.

“And the challenges still remain with security, our social cohesion and social contract between government and the people. But I know that people are working on these issues.”

She said the UN recognised the reforms in Nigeria and other nations, adding that the common global agenda was the Sustainable Development Goals.

Mohammad commended Nigeria’s quick response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as she expressed hope that the arrival of vaccines would be the beginning of the end of COVID-19.

On his part, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo, told his guest that the Federal Government was working hard to make Nigeria the entrepreneurial hub of Africa.

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Economy

N10.7tn Spent on Fuel Subsidy in 10 Years – MOMAN

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N10.7tn Spent on Fuel Subsidy in 10 Years – MOMAN

Nigeria spent a total of N10.7tn on fuel subsidy in the last 10 years, the Chairman, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr Adetunji Oyebanji, has said.

Oyebanji, who was the guest speaker at the 18th Aret Adams Lecture on Thursday, said N750bn was spent on subsidy in 2019.

He highlighted the need for a transition to a market-driven environment through policy-backed legislative and commercial frameworks, enabling the sustainability of the downstream petroleum sector.

“Total deregulation is more than just the removal of price subsidies; it is aimed at improving business operations, increasing the investments in the oil and gas sector value chain, resulting in the growth in the nation’s downstream petroleum sector as a whole,” he said.

The managing director of 11 Plc (formerly Mobil Oil Nigeria Plc) said steps had been taken, “but larger and faster leaps are now required.”

According to him, deregulation requires the creation of a competitive market environment, and will guarantee the supply of products at commercial and market prices.

“It requires unrestricted and profitable investments in infrastructure, earning reasonable returns to investors. It requires a strong regulator to enable transparency and fair competition among players, and not to regulate prices,” Oyebanji said.

He noted that MOMAN had recently called for a national debate by stakeholders to share pragmatic and realistic initiatives to ease the impact of the subsidy removal on society – especially on the most vulnerable.

He said, “A shift from crude oil production to crude oil full value realisation through deliberate investment in domestic refining and refined products distribution, creates the opportunity to transform the dynamics of the downstream sector from one of ‘net importer’ to one of ‘net exporter’, spurring the growth of the Nigerian economy.

“Effective reforms and regulations are key drivers for the growth within the refining sector. Non-functional refineries cost Nigeria over $13bn in 2019. If the NNPC refineries were operating at optimal capacity, Nigeria would have imported only 40 per cent of what it consumed in 2019.”

Full deregulation of the downstream sector remains the most glaring boost to potential investors in this space, according to Oyebanji.

He said, “As crude oil prices will fluctuate depending on the prevailing exchange rates, it will be astute to trade in naira to avoid inevitable price swings.

“There needs to be a balance between ensuring the sustainable growth of the crude oil value chain (upstream through downstream) and providing value for the Nigerian consumer and the Nigerian economy.”

He said the philosophy should be for the government to put the legislative and commercial framework in place and let the market develop by itself.

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