By Bassey Udo
With petroleum products currently experiencing acute shortage of supply as a result of scarcity, oil workers under aegis of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) have accused fuel marketers of hoarding to create an environment for inflation of retail price at the pump.
In recent weeks, motorists have spent a greater part of the days queuing at filling stations, as the scarcity of the product bite harder.
The situation has driven the price of the commodity hitting through the roof, with some filling station dispensing for as high as between N185 to N650 per litre depending on the location and outlet.
PENGASSAN on Monday in Abuja empathized with Nigerians on the hardship they are facing currently with the scarcity and significant hike in the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), popularly called petrol.
The oil workers said their national leadership has been following up with its members in NNPC Trading Limited who are responsible for assigning the products to marketers, along with others in from the Nigerian Midstream, Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) in various depots and terminals across the country.
The Association said since its members were responsible for issuing cargo clearance, monitoring compliance, routing inspection, metering calibration/maintenance, accurate delivery to trucks, record keeping, etc. they were in a position to urge then to carry out their functions expeditiously.
“While we understand that the parameters imputed into the old PPPRA (Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency), now NMDPRA template has since changed, because of some economic vagaries, such as exchange rate fluctuation, vessel hiring cost and cost of automotive gas oil (AGO), also called diesel, amongst others, there is no sufficient justification for PMS (Petrol) to be selling for such highly inflated price, thereby subjecting the masses to further difficulties,” the oil workers lamented.
They said although there were some good marketers who tend to play by the rules, there were others who were overbearing, and have deployed methods to create artificial scarcity in order to hike the price of the products above the regulated price ceiling.
“From data available to us from our members, there is over 30 days PMS sufficiency in the country. Hence, there is no basis for the current scarcity and hardship that Nigerians are being subjected to,” the Association noted.
They called on the management of NMDPRA to compel all marketers and retailers to ensure they made the products available at approved prices.
Besides, they said the management of the regulatory agency should immediately mobilize all its staff in various locations across the country to monitor compliance, and anyone found wanting, should have his or her operating license revoked to serve as a deterrent.
Should the collusion continue unchecked, PENGASSAN threatened to partner with other stakeholders in the industry to ensure Nigerians were not further exploited.