Marketers Raise the Alarm over Artificial Hike in Price of Cooking Gas


Ejiofor Alike
Marketers of cooking gas have raised the alarm over the artificial hike in the price of the product from N2.4 million per 20 metric tonnes on Wednesday last week to N3.5 million on Monday.
The Executive Secretary of the marketers under the aegis of the Nigerian Association of LPG Marketers, Mr. Bassey Essien, told journalists in Lagos yesterday that with the artificial hike in the price of 20 Metric tonne cylinder, the price of 12.5kg cylinder had also gone up from  N2,700 between N3,500 and N4,000 within one week.
Essien called on the federal government to intervene and stop the hike, adding that unlike the prices of other petroleum products, which are paid in dollars, the price of LPG is not paid in dollars, hence there is no reason for the price hike.
According to him, the Nigeria LNG Limited, which supplies LPG to the domestic market, collects Naira from the marketers.
He further argued that the current scarcity of foreign exchange in the country has no effect on LPG because the product is produced locally and not imported.
He accused some officials of the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of the NNPC and one of the LPG marketers, NAVGAS of conniving to hike the price of LPG supplied by NLNG.
According to Essien, the PPMC officials diverted the NLNG’s LPG vessel to NAVGAS terminal instead of allowing it to discharge at PPMC jetty for all the marketers to receive supply.
“Gas is supposed to be readily available in all the major terminals in Lagos but today, only one company has gas because some people have hijacked the NLNG domestic supply scheme. On Thursday last week, they increased the price from N2.4 million per 20 MT to N2.6 million. On Friday, it was increased to N3 million and on Monday, it was increased to N3.5 million and if nothing is done, they will increase it to N4 million. The company did the same thing last year to exploit Nigerians when it was the only company that had LPG but when other companies received product, it quickly crashed the price to N1.9 million,” he explained.
He accused the foreign company of exploiting Nigerians with the connivance of PPMC and called on the federal government to intervene to stop the hardship being experienced by LPG users.
Essien argued that the artificial hike could discourage people from using LPG, thus hampering federal government’s efforts to ensure cleaner environment.
When contacted, the Managing Director of NAVGAS, Mr. Ian Brown told THISDAY that he had explained the cause of the hike to the marketers in a meeting they held on Wednesday.
According to him, the hike was due to the current situation in the country, stressing that the market size of LPG in Nigeria is 300,000MT, while NLNG supplies less than 200,000MT.
But Essien insisted that the company wanted to hide under deregulation to create artificial scarcity and hike price to shortchange Nigerians.
Also, when contacted on the allegation that the PPMC deliberately schemed out other companies to favour NAVGAS, the Manager in charge of Marine Transport Department (MTD), Offshore Programme and Operations at PPMC, Mrs. Onabu told THISDAY that the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) was in charge of scheduling vessels that berth at PPMC jetty and not her office.