By our Correspondent
Since last week, palpable uneasiness has blanketed the entire South-East Region and particularly in those areas served by the Enugu Depot of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC. This came in the wake of the sudden increase in the pump price of petroleum products. From what used to be N185 per litre, the commodity has now catapulted to N200 and N250 in some filling station. As a result, many petrol stations have come under lock and key.
The development is complementing the sufferings of the people. Prices of foodstuffs and other products for the family has soared with the astronomical increase in the prices of petrol and gas, all in the face a fast depreciating value of the naira which stands at N920 to the pound in the forex market.
In reaction, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), has threatened to withdraw its services. The union alleged that the managements of private depots were the cause of the hike in the price. They would buy from the union at the cost of N185 per liter and that after other incendiary expenses the price would escalate to N200 or more per litre.
They lamented that even at N200 per liter, their business would not thrive because of the high cost of diesel to power the station and their exploitation by private tank depot owners and NUPENG. The group appealed to the federal government to revive all NNPC depots within the Eastern Region to enable them to get premium motor spirit at a regulated price. They also asked for the intervention of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC).
“It is no longer news that premium motor spirit, known as petrol, is sold at N200 per litre in the Eastern Region of Nigeria, including Port-Harcourt, Enugu, Owerri, Awka, Uyo, Cross River, Aba, Yenagoa, Makurdi and Lokoja. The real cause of the price hike is the incessant increment in price by private depot owners. A litre of fuel is being sold to us at the rate of N185 per litre. When you add transport and logistics, including the exploitation by NUPENG in the name of union fee which is over One hundred and twenty thousand naira, (N120, 000) per truck, the price soars to more than N200 per liter. Even at N200 per litre, considering the high cost of diesel to power the station and the exploitation from private tank depot owners and NUPENG, our business cannot thrive. Our various associations have met, and we have resolved to withdraw our services. We cannot cope with the harsh environment of doing business caused by private depot owners and NUPENG. We are calling on the Federal Government to revive our various NNPC depots within the Eastern Region to enable us to get premium motor spirit at a regulated price. We are also calling on the Nigeria Labour Congress and the management of the NNPC to please appeal to the leadership of NUPENG to lessen our burden by reducing the loading fee,” the group said.
Concerned residents have asked the Federal Government to wade into the crisis situation and ensure that the marketers also get the product at the same cost with their counterparts in other parts of the country. “It is sad that we are always being subjected to this kind of suffering. Why should petrol marketers down here in the East where the bulk of petrol is produced have to buy the commodity at a higher price? It is not justifiable and we are asking the government to look into the complaints of members of IPMAN,” a concerned resident explained.