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Long fuel queues ground Abuja, neighbouring states

Residents of the Federal Capital Territory and neighbouring Nasarawa and Niger states encountered another level of hardship on Wednesday as more filling stations ran out of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol.

An additional number of retail outlets went dry in Abuja and the neighbouring states, a development that triggered massive queues stretching several kilometers at the very few stations that had products on Wednesday.

This time round, many filling stations belonging to major marketers ran out of stock, while those operated by independent dealers and the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited had nothing to sell to customers on Wednesday. Most of the outlets were closed.

The NNPCL station on Arab Road, Kubwa, that dispensed products on Tuesday, went dry on Wednesday and shut its doors. Similarly, several filing stations belonging to AYM Shafa, Conoil, AA Rano, Total, etc, located in the FCT, Nasarawa and Niger states did not dispense petrol.

The only NNPCL outlet that sold petrol at the Gwarimpa end of the Zuba-Kubwa Expressway on Wednesday, had the longest queues ever seen by this reporter since Nigeria’s fuel scarcity crisis started.

The queues stretched from the expressway into several adjourning streets that were close to, and miles away from the expressway. Owners of vehicles in the queues left their cars under the sun and took shelter under trees, as they waited patiently to buy petrol.

The motorists wondered when Abuja would be free from what was now turning into a never-ending fuel scarcity situation in the country’s capital city. The queues have continued to appear and disappear virtually every month for about two years running.

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“Instead of abating, the hardship in Nigeria has continued to increase and spread. It is so unfortunate that there is a government and those running it are comfortable with what the people they govern are going through,” a motorist, Abdul Gana, stated.

Another motorist, Philip Sunday, said, “You can see how the government has continued to frustrate Nigerians. So just because of the elections of February 25, 2023, we should all suffer? Why should a government give that as the reason for the suffering we are facing now?”

The Federal Government’s NNPCL had announced on Sunday that the appearance of queues in Abuja and some parts of the country “is largely due to restrictions in businesses and movement, to allow for the conduct of the presidential and National Assembly elections and enable Nigerians to exercise their civic right.”

The NNPCL also announced that it had 2.1 billion litres of PMS, adding that it had enough product to keep the country wet for 47 days, amid the severe scarcity in the affected states.

“Latest updates released on Saturday show a total of 2.1 billion litres of PMS stock, representing 0.9 billion litres in all the land depots nationwide and 1.2 billion litres on marine vessels, which is equivalent to 35 days sufficiency as of March 4, 2023.

“We plan to close the month of March 2023 with about 2.8 billion litres, which is equivalent to 47 days of sufficiency,” the Chief Corporate Communications Officer, NNPCL, Garba-Deen Muhammad, had stated in a statement issued in Abuja.

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But The PUNCH exclusively reported on Wednesday that the scarcity of PMS in Abuja and other Northern states could persist till after Saturday’s gubernatorial elections in various states, according to oil marketers.

The National Vice President, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Abubakar Maigandi, had stated in the report that the scarcity of petrol in the Northern part of the country and some other states, would drag till next week.

“Most people thought that there would be crisis, so they stopped their trucks from going to lift products, but since there is no crisis so far, by next week, fuel should be available,” he said.

Maigandi added, “It will clear after the governorship elections in states on Saturday, for when we have elections every time in Nigeria people will develop fear. So that is the challenge.

“When we tell our truck drivers to go to Lagos to lift products, they refuse because they are scared of their lives. So we hope that by next week it will clear, for after the elections, things should return to normal, because there is enough product.”

Punch

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