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Petrol price hike: Queues resurface in Lagos, Abuja, others

NEWSMAN, Abuja – On Friday, panic buying of Premium Motor Spirit, (PMS) popularly known as petrol, and long queues of vehicles were witnessed in many filling stations across many states in the country after a reported increase in pump price from N162 to N212.16 by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).

PPPRA had early Friday published the expected new lower and upper prices for PMS at retail outlets, putting the rates at N209.61/litre and N212.61/litre respectively. This triggered panic buying of petrol across the country.

PPPRA has however denied its own publication.

Long queues, traffic jam, an increase in the cost of transportation and the immediate shutdown of most petrol stations were the result of the situation across most parts of the country.

However, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and PPPRA tried to manage the situation, insisting that the pump price remained unchanged.

Sylva, who gave the assurance while addressing newsmen in Lagos, yesterday, said: “Irrespective of the source of that information, I want to assure you that it is completely untrue.

“Neither Mr. President, who is the Minister of Petroleum Resources, nor myself, who deputise for him as minister of state, has approved that petrol price should be increased by one naira.

Also, NNPC’s Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Dr. Kennie Obateru, while addressing newsmen in Abuja, said ex-deport price, which is the price at which oil marketers buy products at the depots and determines the price at which petrol stations would sell to motorists, will not increase.

However, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) and the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) denied any hike in the pump price of petrol.

Executive Secretary of MOMAN, Mr. Clement Isong, said the NNPC had assured members that they would not increase of prices in March, adding that the association has advised its members to continue retailing with the old price regime.

Similarly, President of IPMAN, Chinedu Okoronkwo, said marketers had received communication from NNPC that there would not be any price increment until the government and organised labour concluded their deliberations.

In Ibadan, a motorist, who identified himself as Tunde Owolabi, said the development was unbearable, as he had been moving across fuel stations in search of petrol.

A Lagos resident, Victoria Onoja, said the development left her in traffic gridlock for over three hours for a trip that ordinarily takes her 20 minutes.

In Enugu, marketers hiked the price to N210, despite the denial of an increase in the pump price of petrol.

Residents of Nsukka town in Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State also complained about the cost of petrol, which sold between N220 and N225 per litre in filing stations on Friday.

Chidi Onah, a lawyer, expressed concern that the increase in petrol price had become a monthly affair.

“In February, the price was N187. I bought a litre this morning in filing station at N223. I stayed over 45 minutes in a queue because few stations in Nsukka town are selling,” he said.

Also, the NNPC filling station on Arab Road in Kubwa and NIPCO retail outlet along Kubwa-Zuba Expressway witnessed sudden massive rush on Friday after motorists heard of the publication by the PPPRA.

The same scenario played out in some filling stations in parts of Nasarawa and Niger states on Friday.

Considering that the Federal Government had last year deregulated the downstream sector of the petroleum industry, forces of demand and supply, particularly, crude oil price, which now stands around $67 per barrel, and exchange rate, which stands above N400 per $1, are basic indicators of the local pump price.

The pump price of petrol was initially downward when the sector was deregulated because of the low price of petrol. Afterwards, it rose from N121.50 to N123.50 per litre in June; N140.80 to N143.80 in July and N148 to N150 in August last year. In September, pump prices rose further to N158 and N162 per litre.

An attempt to increase the pump price in December last year met stiff opposition, as labour unions dragged the government to a standstill. The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), which were furious over repeated hikes in petrol price, forced the government into a dialogue, where NNPC agreed to slash N5 from N167.44, a development that the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, said would bring down the price of petrol to N162.44K, Guardian reported

With the increase in crude oil price as economies reopen worldwide, labour returned to its earlier position, as Sylva and Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mele Kyari, hinted of a possible rise in the pump price of petrol, in line with the deregulation regime, a development that has currently led to another roundtable discussion, where the governors had to intervene.

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