Fuel scarcity may likely hit the country next week as fuel tanker drivers have resolved to keep away from the depots from Friday because of the coronavirus pandemic ravaging the world. The umbrella body of the tanker drivers, the Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), which disclosed this in a statement signed by the national president, Alhaji Yusuf Othman, on Wednesday, threatened that its members’ services would be suspended until the COVID-19 pandemic is brought under control.
He stated: “This action is necessitated by the fact that our loading depots across the country are places of beehive of activities containing more than 500 persons at any one time.” Othman said the drivers should be rest assured that the national leadership of NARTO would stand by them at this critical moment.
Meanwhile, there were signs of vehicular queues at some fuel stations within Abuja and its environs yesterday as some fuel stations locked up. Our correspondents observed the closure of some of these stations at Asokoro including MRS and A.A. Rano. Also, at Nyanya area of Abuja, Sani Brothers and Azman were equally not dispensing fuel during yesterday. Other independent filling stations in Nasarawa State towns near Abuja were also affected. Stations like A. A. Rano at Nyanya in Abuja and Mararaba as well as AYM Shafa filling station in Nasarawa state were dispensing but have mounting queues as the other outlets remain closed. At the Jabi area, NIPCO station was dispensing but witnessed queue at all its pumps far more than the usual.
There were also pockets of queues at the NNPC station at Jahi in Abuja and Ado in Mararaba town of Nasarawa state. Daily Trust also observed that fewer stations operating were dispensing at the new official pump price of N125/ litre.
Recall that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) implemented a reduction of retail price of petrol from N145 to N125/ litre as directed by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva. When asked at some of the closed stations, some operators said they were waiting for the arrival of trucks to discharge at their points. Others said they were waiting for their pumps to be adjusted from the N145 old rate to the new pump price of N125.
When contacted yesterday, the NNPC’s Group General Manager Group Public Affairs Division, Dr. Kehinde Obateru, said the queues would soon fizzle out as government has agreed with the marketers on differentials in their old stocks. He clarified: “What happened was because of transition from the oil price to new one. The queues will soon disappear, we assure Nigerians this.’’ On the withdrawal of services by fuel tankers, he said this will not likely happen as government would prevail on them not to do so.