Fuel scarcity may linger in Abuja, other cities

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The present fuel queues that have surfaced in Abuja and some other cities across the country may not disappear soon as transporters of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, on Thursday said the nationwide scarcity of PMS was partly due to the gradual halt in the operations of truck owners.

According to them, many PMS transporters have stopped transporting the commodity, while more will soon park their trucks if the government remains adamant in refusing to increase the freight rate for transporting petrol.

The National President, Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners, Yusuf Othman, told journalists in Abuja that the payment of freight for petrol was regulated by the Nigeria Downstream, Midstream Regulatory Authority.

Othman said, “Worse still, these payments are received by transporters in arrears, usually three to five months after the products are delivered.

“In 2020, there was an approval by the defunct board of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency to increase the freight rate by 26 per cent for which the endorsement of the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources was needed for implementation.

“However, the Minister of State could not endorse the approval due to the obvious implication of its implementation that would result into either an outright increase in the pump price of PMS or an increase in the subsidy on the product, neither of which the government was ready to do at the time.”

Othman added, “This situation generated a lot of tension in the downstream petroleum industry with a strong possibility of industrial action from both NARTO and PTD/NUPENG. To douse this tension, the Group Managing Director of the NNPC intervened.”

He stated that the resolutions reached had not been implemented and that transport owners would not continue in business when running at a loss.

“If the government refuses to comply with our demands, our people are not compelled to run their businesses at a loss,” Othman said.

He added, “The current PMS scarcity is partly caused by a lack of funds to run the trucks profitably.

“Many transporters have decided to park their trucks, and I am sure that many more will park theirs in due course if something drastic about increasing the freight rate is not promptly done.”