…POS racketeering at Abuja fuel stations emerges
The blame-game over the 5-month fuel scarcity at the weekend, continued yesterday, with motorists and other users of the product paying between N240 and N550 per litre in major cities across the country.
According to reports, in Lagos, Ondo, Edo, Kwara Abia, Anambra and Benue States, some independent marketers boldly displayed unofficial prices on their pumps, while others left the old official price of N167 per litre, but verbally announced higher prices to willing buyers.
It was observed that in some of the stations, motorists still queued for hours, while in others, it was ‘drive-in and buy’.
However, major marketers such as the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), still sold at N185, a price that was surreptitiously introduced over a week ago.
Curiously, buying the product at many of the stations came with a condition introduced by greedy attendants and their managers, who allegedly imposed a mandatory payment of 10 percent on the quantity purchased.
In Lagos, most of the major marketers along routes like Bank Anthony, Ikeja; Ikorodu Road; Murtala Muhammed Road, Yaba and Obafemi Awolowo Road in Ikoyi were under lock and key yesterday. The few that opened for business had motorists waiting for hours.
In Akure, Ondo State, where motorists also stayed in lines for hours, the pump price hit N500 per litre at petrol stations in the city.
According to a motorist, who spoke to newsmen, he bought fuel along Ondo Road at N550 per litre.
It was gathered from key stakeholders that the cost of renting a daughter vessel, diversion of allocations by some marketers, and sabotage, were responsible for the scarcity and hike in prices.
The players, who also warned that the scarcity might last longer, added that the government’s failure to pay N600 billion it allegedly owes Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) members and rationing of fuel were also factors.
While stakeholders accuse marketers of instigating an increase in pump price, the marketers blame the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) for the scarcity.
One of the sources claimed that IPMAN is also reluctant to continue lifting fuel at the unofficial price from depots. He said that IPMAN wants the government to pay its members over N600 billion for bridging the gap. This claim has however been disputed by the government.
In Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, petrol stations have allegedly perfected a racket with Point-of-Sale (POS) operators, all aimed at denting the pockets of their patrons.
Some motorists lamented that at some fuel stations, some people are openly sabotaging the efforts of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to make transactions cashless. According to one of the motorists, they insist on cash, which enables them to steal from the station’s till and make the franchise owner bankrupt.
Industry sources also allege that there is ongoing sabotage within the system that is aimed at increasing pump prices.