Fuel scarcity hits Abuja as petroleum tanker drivers begin strike

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Many filling stations are currently closed in the Federal Capital Territory, leading to long queues by motorists at the few outlets that are dispensing Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol.

Operators in the downstream oil sector confirmed that the development was due to the suspension of operations by the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners, in fulfillment of their threat to down tools beginning today (Monday).

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited filling station on Arab Road in Kubwa, Abuja, was closed on Monday morning.

The Conoil filling station along the Zuba-Kubwa expressway had long queues.

NNPCL retail outlets in the central business district of Abuja also had very long queues on Monday morning, as many other stations run by independent marketers closed shop due to the halt in the transportation of petroleum products by NARTO members.

The Federal Government had ordered oil marketers to negotiate with NARTO to avert the planned suspension of operations by its members with respect to the lifting of petroleum products nationwide beginning Monday.

It was reported that oil marketers and the executives of NARTO met about six times between Saturday and Sunday, following the declaration of the petroleum products’ transporters to halt operations.

A report also stated that the Federal Government, through the downstream regulator and the petroleum ministry, would meet with NARTO members, as well as other parties today (Monday) in Abuja to sort out the issues.

On Friday, it was reported that Nigeria might witness another round of fuel scarcity as NARTO had vowed to stop lifting petroleum products beginning from today (Monday) due to the high cost of operations.

NARTO members have repeatedly raised concern over the high cost of diesel required to power their trucks for the transportation of petroleum products across the country.

Oil marketers had said on Thursday that diesel prices were between N1, 250 to N1, 400/litre depending on the area of purchase.

NARTO’s President, Yusuf Othman, had in a statement he issued in Abuja on Thursday, said the statement was an official announcement from the association’s headquarters that members of the group would park their trucks from Monday.

“Why? It is because what we spend on operations is more than what we get in total, both in local and bridging,” he stated.

While the tanker operators insisted that the suspension of operations was still in force, it was, however, gathered on Monday that the meeting between them and the Federal Government was ongoing at the time of filing this report.

This, according to government sources, was aimed at halting the suspension of operations by NARTO to avert a nationwide scarcity of fuel.