A photo shows an NNPC retail outlet as people struggle to buy petrol. Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.
It was one of the unusual days in Lagos on Monday as many residents spent hours waiting on queues in filling stations at various locations in the state.
This was as a result of the scarcity of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), popularly known as petrol which affected businesses which depend on the product for power due to the erratic supply of electricity in the country.
Similarly, the number of commercial vehicles plying the roads was less compared to a regular business day, leaving many passengers stranded at various bus stops.
While some were forced to pay extra fares for transportation, others opted to trek to their respective destinations, including offices, markets, and homes.
Amid fears that the scarcity might be a result of industrial action by members of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), the union said it took a decision to go on strike.
In an interview with Channels Television, the Lagos Zonal Chairman of IPMAN, Akin Akinrinade, explained the rationale behind the fuel scarcity.
According to him, the situation across the state is as a result of the operating environment which has become hostile to their businesses.
Akinrinade specifically stated that the petroleum marketers were not on strike as feared but have found it difficult to operate considering the dependence on diesel whose price has skyrocketed.
“Members of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria IPMAN have shut down their stations, not because we are striking; we are not on strike,” he said.
“Rather, the business environment has been very hostile to us such that we can no longer do business under this condition. For you to load a litre of petrol, you pay in N162 per litre.”
The IPMAN official was quick to say the situation had nothing to do with the removal of subsidy or deregulation of the petroleum sector.
He listed the high cost of buying petrol at the depots, the high cost of diesel for running their station, and the increased cost of freight as the major factors responsible.
Akinrinade stressed that it was no longer feasible to sell the product at the recommended price of N165 to a litre, adding that the landing cost of petrol was between N175 to N178 naira to the litre.
“You now have to add the cost of transportation which is between N6 to N8, depending on the distance within Lagos,” he explained. “If it is outside Lagos, it is much more than that.
“So, if you add N8 to N162, you already have N170 and the government which is the regulator wants us to sell at N165; we have not even added the charges at the depot and the running cost at our stations.”
“You know what diesel says now, and you know how epileptic power supply is; we run on generator, using diesel at N800 per litre. There is no station in Lagos that uses less than 50 litres (of diesel) per day.
“So, our members can no longer sell (petrol) at N165 per litre; in fact, there is no reasonable person in this business that can sell below N180 per litre, so it is not as if we are on strike,” he concluded.