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•Independent marketers put prices at N300 – N450 per litre

•Transport fares, food prices remain high

•NMDPRA absent in filling stations

DESPITE the shutdown of seven private depots, others remained adamant, selling petrol above the N148 per litre official depot price to independent oil marketers nationwide.

The regulator, the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, NMDPRA, had last week shut private depots, including Rainoil, Ardova, TCL, Bluefin, and NEPAL, for selling the regulated product in excess of N200 per litre.

But checks by Vanguard in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Calabar and Warri showed that other private depots have remained undeterred, and continue to sell the product at between N215 and N225 per litre.

Specifically, a visit to some of the private depots showed that those that had the product, sold in excess of the government’s N148 per litre regulated price to marketers.

Consequently, independent oil marketers, who lift petrol at such high prices ended up selling it to motorists and other users at higher prices in different parts of the nation.

Lagos, environs

In Lagos, the independent marketers continued to sell at between N230 and N300 per litre, while their major counterparts and the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited sold it at N170.

Imo, Anambra state

The situation remained the same in Owerri, Imo state, as Lagos-based Executive Director of Spaces for Change, Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri, who visited the area, disclosed in a telephone interview that “most filling stations sell at between N300 and N450 per litre in Owerri, Imo State capital. I bought it for N450 per litre.”

Similarly, in Awka, Anambra State, there was unusual light traffic on the roads in most towns in the state on the first day of 2023 as petrol sold for N300 and above per litre.

The development forced most vehicle owners to park them, slowing down movements in the state.

For some time, petrol stations have been adjusting their pumps on a daily basis until it came to a point many people said they could no longer afford to keep their cars on the road.

In one filling station, opposite the Amawbia flyover in the Anambra State capital, the attendants adjusted price from N300 to N320 per liter in the presence of the people on the queue.

It was also observed that most stations stopped selling petrol on the  eve of the new year, thereby frustrating people who had planned various activities, including weddings and burial ceremonies, for the period.

As a consequence, transport fares have increased astronomically in the state.  Also, people travelling to other parts of the country from Anambra State are paying nearly three times the amount they were paying previously.

For instance, a journey from Onitsha to Awka, which used to be N500, was increased to N1000, while intra-city transport increased from N100 to N300 in the major cities of Awka, Onitsha and Nnewi.

A civil servant, Mr. Okechukwu Onuma, said he had decided to suspend his planned journey to his village as he could no longer afford the cost of fuelling his car.

“It was a difficult decision to take, but I had to take it because there are bills to pay this month, including school fees and house rent.

“In fact, the hike in fuel price was a blessing in disguise for me because I could have spent so much money in the village,” he said.

Food prices remain high

Meanwhile, driven by the high price of petrol, the prices of food items and basic utilities, remained high nationwide.

For instance, the price of 50kg of rice remained high at between N40,000 and N50,000, depending on location and cost of transportation.

NNPC’s intervention

However, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company, NNPC, has completed the process of enabling independent marketers to buy directly from the NNPC Retail.

In an interview with Vanguard, yesterday, the President of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, Mr Chinedu Okonkwo, said: “Independent marketers continue to buy petrol from private depots at over N200 per litre. But there is hope. I have just finished discussing this with the Managing Director of NNPC Retail.

”He said an App has been installed to enhance the migration of our members to the NNPC Retail. This is a good development and we hope that very soon, our members would be able to get supplies directly from NNPC.”

NMDPRA absent at filling stations

Officials of the Nigerian Midstream Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, NMDPRA, were not visible at outlets visited over the weekend, thus creating an atmosphere for operators involved in diversion and arbitrary pricing to exploit motorists and other buyers.

NMDPRA reacts

However, speaking to journalists on New Year’s eve in Abuja, the NMDPRA Chief Executive, Engr. Farouk Ahmed, had said: “As government and regulators, we had several engagements with all the stakeholders, including the major marketers, independent marketers, transporters, the suppliers, the NNPC as well as other interested parties to see how we can address the distribution bottlenecks.”

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