The lingering fuel shortage of petroleum products, especially Premium Motor Spirit PMS, also called petrol and Automotive Gas Oil AGO, called diesel that characterise most major cities and towns across the length and breadth of Nigeria in the last three weeks may mar Christmas celebrations in the country, investigations have shown.

Recall that long queues had resurfaced at most filling stations in the country about three weeks ago, which the government then claimed was as a result of panic buying by consumers.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation NNPC, the nation’s sole petroleum regulatory corporation has assured that normal supplies of products would resume by the weekend, as efforts are being made to flood the markets with the products.

Investigations show that the acute shortage of refined petroleum products with the attendant hike in fares has further reduced the purchasing power of consumers, especially given that the country is still grappling with the effects of economic recession and hyper inflationary rates.

For instance, it was gathered that as against the official pump price of N145 per litre of PMS, the product sales as much as N300 per litre while diesel, which before now sells for between N190 and N210 now goes for as much as N350-N400 per litre, mainly at the black markets.

This has also led to an astronomical rise in transport fares by more than 150 per cent. For instance, a bus ride from Ikeja to Lagos Island, which used to be N200, is now above N400, which rises even higher during peak hours of morning and evening, a development that has made free movement of goods and persons very difficult.

Coupled with this is the gridlock on most roads with filling stations, especially in Lagos, as long queues at the filling stations have taken larger parts of the road, thus causing serious traffic logjams on most routes.

Also affected by the astronomical rise in transport fares are those on inter-city journeys, who pay as much as three times the normal fares to get to their destinations.

But in the face of all these, the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, has assured Nigerians that queues at petrol stations across the country will disappear by the weekend.

According to Baru, who spoke shortly before the signing ceremony of a Memorandum of Understanding MoU between the NNPC and the Benue State Government on the Agasha-Guma Bio-Fuels Projects, in Abuja Thursday, as part of efforts to achieve this, corporation has doubled the daily supply of petrol, from about 27 million–30 million litres per day.

He however attributed the hiccups in the supply of petrol to reports about purported planned increase in the price of petrol, claiming that some marketers, in their quest to cash in on the situation, suddenly started hoarding the products.

“But we swiftly swung into action by doubling our supply nationwide. At the time the rumour started, we had about 30 day sufficiency. The normal daily supply to the nation is 700 trucks, equalling about 27-30m litres per day”, he also said.

The GMD further said that the NNPC has enough product sufficiency that will last up to 30 days, insisting that at least a billion litre petrol laden ships were heading to Nigeria, expected to arrive before the end of December which he noted would return the country to a 30-day-plus sufficiency.

He commended NNPC’s sister agencies such as the Department of Petroleum Resources DPR and Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency PPPRA, for their support in helping NNPC tackle the menace of hoarding by filling stations.