1999, Port Harcourt, Nigeria — In an almost daily routine, cars line up for gasoline in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. The most enterprising drivers go the wrong way on a divided highway to be in a shorter line. Many of Nigeria’s petroleum refineries are no longer functioning, as corrupt government officials find it more lucrative to export crude oil and import refined fuels from neighboring countries. — Image by © George Steinmetz/Corbis
The petrol scarcity in many parts gained more ground on Sunday in Lagos, Abuja, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Niger states as many filling stations were shut.
The closure of the filling stations followed threats by members of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria to embark on a nationwide strike from today (Monday).
Many fillings stations that dispensed petrol last week refused to sell the commodity on Sunday, as some of their managers stated that they were obeying the directives of PENGASSAN.
Officials of PENGASSAN told one of our correspondents that the Department of State Services had invited the association to a meeting, which commenced at 6pm on Sunday and was still ongoing as of the time of filing this report.
A source, who is an executive of a Lagos-based oil marketing company, told our correspondent that the lingering supply shortfall was largely responsible for the queues at filling stations.
He said a new vessel, which came in on Friday and had started discharging about 35 million litres of PMS, would improve the supply situation at depots and filling stations this week.
It was observed that some filling stations in Lagos and parts of Ogun states as well as Abuja and neighbouring states were shut on Sunday, while the few that sold petrol had very long queues that spilled onto the roads.
The Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Ndu Ughamadu, told one of our correspondents on Sunday that the management of the firm was meeting officials of PENGASSAN.
“As we speak right now, the NNPC is holding consultation with the association on this matter and we are optimistic,” he said.
When asked if there was any plan to increase the pump price of petrol based on claims by some government officials, Ughamadu replied, “We have said it many times that there is no plan by the NNPC to increase petrol price and that is the situation.”
On the meeting with the DSS, the Public Relations Officer, PENGASSAN, Fortune Obi, said it was as a result of the planned strike by the association.
He stated, “At the moment, nothing has changed but we will be having a meeting with the Department of State Services by 6pm today (Sunday). That is the latest development. However, we will still go ahead with our Central Working Committee meeting tomorrow (Monday).
“The meeting with the DSS should be basically on the strike issue and I think the management officials of Neconde are likely going to be at the meeting.”
When told that the decision by PENGASSAN to embark on a nationwide industrial action had led to long queues in filling stations, Obi replied, “More of such will happen because there is a directive to members to shut down operations and some of them have already started, which is why some outlets are not dispensing”.