Fuel scarcity has persisted in most parts of Port Harcourt in spite of assurances of fuel availability by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG).
Our correspondent who went round Port Harcourt at the weekend reports that most filling stations along Ada George Road, NTA Road, Mgbuoba and Choba axis of Port Harcourt were under lock and key, while the few ones that opened to consumers were selling above the N145 pump price.
The same situation was also observed at the East/West Road, Aluu and Rumuokoro axis of Port Harcourt where many filling stations were closed to the public, even as fuel tankers laden with petroleum products were seeing moving to various destinations across the state to discharge fuel.
The situation was, however, different along Aba Road, Odili Road, Station Road and Aggrey Road where filling stations, mostly major oil marketers, were selling at the normal price, with short queues.
The seeming scarcity, which has been described as artificial, has however, caused panic buying among residents of Port Harcourt.
The situation has also forced many motorists along Choba and Mgbuoba areas of Port Harcourt to hike transport fares.
As at the time of filling this report, yesterday, normalcy was gradually returning to the city as many filling stations that were hitherto closed to public were seeing attending to motorists and other fuel consumers at the normal N145 per litre.
Speaking with The Tide at the weekend, the Assistant Manager, Jobocrita Oil Limited at Aluu in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State, attributed the near scarcity and panic buying to rumours of an impending removal of fuel subsidy by the Federal Government.
The Manager who did not want his name in print said the people were just panicking for nothing, as he appealed to Nigerians to disregard the rumour of an increase in pump price.
However, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu has assured Nigerians that there is sufficient Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), also known as fuel in the country.
Kachikwu gave the assurance in Lagos, yesterday, that the country had gone past the era of fuel scarcity and urged motorists to desist from panic buying.
“I can say that there shouldn’t be any reason for fuel scarcity, we have gone past the era of fuel scarcity.
“NNPC informed me when I made inquires that they imported enough.
“Yesterday, I saw a few pockets of scarcity in Abuja, but I was told that it was Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) related distribution issues, and it will be sorted out as soon as possible.
“So, it is not an issue of lack of sufficiency. I am told they have about 28 days sufficiency, two weeks ago; they presently have between 14 and 15 days product sufficiency,’’ he said.
The minister noted that the 28 days sufficiency was okay based on 50 million litres daily utilisation in the country.
“I don’t expect to see a scarcity; I just expect them to work hard over the next few days to deal with whatever logistic issue they have. I will be working with NNPC on that,’’ he added
On queues building up in some filling stations across the country, he maintained that the country was wet enough to serve the needs of motorists.