Some filling stations on Wednesday dispensed Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, at over N175/litre, higher than the government-approved N165/litre price, as oil marketers insisted to embark on strike from next week if the government fails to pay them (marketers).
It was gathered that some outlets in Lagos that sold the commodity at N169/litre last week had to adjust their pumps on Wednesday, as they dispensed PMS to motorists at N175/litre.
Also, queues by motorists at filling stations, which had persisted in Abuja and environs since February this year, gradually resurfaced in parts of Lagos on Wednesday.
Our correspondent also observed that many filling stations, particularly those belonging to members of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, were shut due to a lack of products to sell to customers.
Gegu Oil, Eterna and Oando filling stations at the Dutse end of the Kubwa-Zuba Expressway in Abuja, for instance, had remained shut for days for lack of products to sell, despite the heavy queues of motorists in a nearby NNPC retail outlet.
Amidst these concerns, oil marketers under the aegis of Abuja-Suleja IPMAN, stated on Wednesday that their proposed strike would go ahead next week if the government fails to substantially clear the bridging claims for transportation of petrol being owed marketers.
Last week, oil marketers warned that Nigeria could witness “the mother of all queues” soon if the Federal Government fails to pay the 12 months bridging claims being owed operators in the downstream oil sector.
They had also denied being paid N74bn by the Federal Government as bridging claims for the transportation of petroleum products.
The Federal Government through its Nigeria Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority had said last week that it paid N74bn as bridging claims to oil marketers for the transportation of petroleum products across the country in seven months.
But the Secretary, Abuja-Suleja IPMAN, Mohammed Shuaibu, whose unit covers Abuja, Kogi, Niger and parts of Nasarawa and Kaduna, told our correspondent on Wednesday that though some members had confirmed the receipt of payments, a host of others had yet to receive theirs.
“Few of our members have confirmed receiving alerts, but the majority have not been paid and so the decision to embark on the mother of all strike still stands, except we get our payments,” he stated.
Shuaibu added, “Many independent marketers are closing shop and because of these debts. We cannot continue to fold our hands. We are sorry about the hardship, but the government has to pay us, otherwise we will withdraw our services.”
Reacting to the concerns, the spokesperson, NMDPRA, Kimchi Apollo, earlier told our correspondent that the petrol price had not changed from the approved N165/litre price, as he also stated that efforts were on to settle to bridging claims being owed the marketers.
Meanwhile, there were indications that long queues were beginning to resurface in Lagos State and its environs on Wednesday, as findings showed that filling stations were beginning to sell petrol above N175 per litre.
The Federal Government and oil marketers are yet to come to a compromise on how much a litre of petrol should be sold, and marketers are beginning to sell products at prices not approved by the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority.
most filling stations in Lagos in Ogun state were under lock and keys, long queues were beginning to reappear at few stations with products.
A source close that marketers met with Chief Executive, NMDPRA, Farouk Ahmed, in Abuja on Tuesday, where he pleaded with them not to increase the price.
According to our source, Farouk has promised that the N74bn bridging claims owed marketers would be paid any time soon.
Marketers, however, said they could no longer bank on the Federal Government’s promise to pay the claims, while they continue to run at a loss for selling petrol at N165 per litre.
Marketers had held a similar meeting with the NMDPRA two weeks ago, where they aired their grievances on the high costs of running their petrol stations.
Also, the Depots and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria had hinted that it would be impossible for its members to keep prices at N165/litre when the landing costs to their stations were already on the high side.