Petrol Scarcity Disrupts Businesses Across Nigeria, Causing Long Queues and Price Hikes

Businesses across Nigeria are grappling with significant disruptions as a severe petrol scarcity grips the nation. The shortage, attributed to logistics hurdles, has sparked widespread concern and frustration among both consumers and business owners.

In major cities like Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt, long queues have formed at petrol stations, with many running out of fuel entirely, BusinessDay’s findings revealed. Commuters are also facing extended wait times, as transport costs have surged due to the scarcity. This has resulted in increased fares for public transportation and inflated delivery charges for goods and services.

“I have been out of business for two days because I have not been able to buy petrol,” Uche Adams, a Lagos-based trader, told BusinessDay in a chat on Monday. Similarly, in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the scarcity has created a boom for ‘black marketers’ who are leveraging the situation to sell petrol for as high as N1,000 per litre.

“I have only operated for five hours today due to fuel scarcity. I can’t buy at any filling station and black marketers are selling higher than N1,000 per litre,” said Adamu Abdullahi, who operates a barber’s shop at Kubwa, Abuja. Private depot owners in Lagos have hiked petrol prices from N630 to N720 per litre.

Previously, private depot owners, acting as third parties, sold petrol to independent marketers at a price ranging from N630 to N650 per litre, while the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) provided petrol to major marketers at a price below or around N600 per litre. Now, major marketers sell petrol for under N650 per litre, whereas independent marketers sell it for between N750 and N800 per litre. BusinessDay found that the few filling stations open to customers have increased their prices to as high as N800 per litre.

Uche, who runs his taxi on the Airport Road-Federal Secretariat route in FCT, and was waiting patiently in one of the NNPC retail stations in the Central Business District, told BusinessDay that the fuel scarcity has impacted his revenue, which he said ranges from N30,000 to N50,000 daily.

“This scarcity is really affecting me. I have been looking for where to get fuel since Saturday evening and I had to drive here very early this morning when I heard they were selling. But it is almost 3pm and it is not my turn yet. I will drive down and buy from the black market even though their prices are higher,” he said.

Meanwhile, the state-owned oil company has attributed the recent fuel scarcity and surge in prices to a disruption of ship-to-ship (STS) transfer of petrol between mother vessels and daughter vessels resulting from a recent thunderstorm. Olufemi Soneye, chief corporate communications officer, said, “The adverse weather condition has also affected berthing at jetties, truck load-outs, and transportation of products to filling stations, disrupting station supply logistics.”

The situation has been further complicated by flooding on truck routes, hindering the movement of petrol from coastal areas to the FCT. Soneye added that the NNPC is collaborating with relevant stakeholders to address these logistics challenges and restore the smooth supply of petrol to affected regions.

“Loading has already resumed in areas where these issues have lessened, and it is anticipated that the situation will continue to improve in the coming days until full normalcy is achieved,” he said. He also urged motorists to refrain from panic buying and hoarding of petroleum products.

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