By Ejiofor Alike
Despite the efforts by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu to end the current shortages of petrol across the country, some retail outlets owned by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the major oil marketing companies have been indulging in racketeering to shortchange customers, THISDAY has learnt.
THISDAY gathered that following the refusal of the major marketers to sell at government’s ex-depot price of N77.66k, some of their retail outlets have now resorted to racketeering to make extra margins at the detriment of their customers.
Investigations revealed that depots belonging to major marketers sell petrol to only their retail outlets and at a price of N86.50 per litre, which is the same price these dealers are expected to sell the product at the pumps.
However, these major marketers pay special margins to their dealers to ensure that they do not sell above the government’s pump price of N86.50.
It was however learnt that some of the dealers of the major marketers’ branded filling stations are not satisfied with the margins paid by the major marketers and have devised several means of shortchanging customers.
While some are selling above the stipulated pump price, others that sell at the government’s pump price collect extra money from motorists before dispensing fuel to them.
THISDAY investigation also revealed that some sell only at night to avoid the regulatory agencies that monitor filling stations.
For instance, the NNPC at Yewande Junction in Oke Aro along Ijoko-Agbado-Ojodu Road in Ifo Local Government Area of Ogun State was selling at N110 per litre on Wednesday, against the official pump price of N86 per litre for NNPC’s stations.
It was learnt that the station received stock of petrol on Monday but refused to sell until Tuesday night from 8pm to 11pm. THISDAY also gathered that the station sold on Wednesday at N110 per litre.
Investigation also revealed that the NNPC Filling Station at Itele Road, near Koro Otun in Ota, Ogun State was selling between N150 and N160 per litre throughout last week, instead of N86 per litre.
However, none of the major marketers in Lagos was caught selling above the pump price but the attendants were observed to be collecting extra money from motorists by the sides of the pumps before dispensing into their vehicles.
Some of the filling stations affected include MRS Filling Station at Palmgroove; Mobil Filling Station at Anthony; Total Filling Station along Itire Road in Surulere, which was sighted dispensing only into jericans and Total Filling Station at Mobalaji Bank Anthony, which was seen selling only at night.
Efforts to get in touch with the Executive Secretary of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Mr. Obafemi Olawore did not yield fruits as calls put through to his mobile phone were not answered on Saturday.
But the Chairman of MOMAN and Group Executive Officer of Forte Oil Plc, Mr Akin Akinfemiwa said in a statement at the weekend that the public should not engage in panic-buying as the federal government had provided sufficient second quarter import allocations for the importation of petroleum products.
Akinfemiwa said the allocations had been evenly divided between the NNPC and the petroleum marketers.
According to him, the federal government, NNPC and the major marketers have put in place a structure to ensure the effective distribution of these allocations to the retail outlets and as a result, petrol has become readily available.
“In order for the populace to reap the benefit of our joint efforts, we advise the public to refrain from panic buying and we assure the buying public that we shall continue to work hand in hand with the NNPC and the Federal Government to ensure uninterrupted fuel supplies all year round,” he added.