There seemed to be no end in sight with respect to the queues for fuel in Abuja and neighbouring states of Kaduna, Niger and Nasarawa, as the situation persisted on Wednesday.
Queues by thousands of motorists and other users of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly known as petrol, have been a regular sight in the Federal Capital Territory and neighbouring states since the end of the fourth quarter of last year.
Many independent filling stations were shut on Wednesday for lack of fuel to dispense, while the few major oil marketers and mega filling stations belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation that dispensed the commodity had to contend with long queues of desperate motorists.
Despite the many complaints by petrol users and several reports by the media, the situation has failed to improve, as motorists who wish to purchase PMS from filling stations now factor in the hours they will spend in queues as they plan their daily schedule.
Many residents of the FCT and neighbouring states believe that the government and the oil firm, the NNPC, may have run out of ideas on how to handle the situation.
“It is obvious that the Federal Government and the NNPC are currently bereft of ideas on how to handle the scarcity of petrol that we see in many parts of Nigeria and this is so unfortunate,” an angry motorist in one of the queues at the NNPC mega station along Kubwa-Zuba Expressway, Sumaila Khadijah, said.
The NNPC, however, announced on Wednesday that it had stepped up the arrest and prosecution of errant marketers and fuel hawkers across the country.
The corporation said its special task force on filling stations’ monitoring had made a series of arrests, including two filling station managers, who diverted 66,000 litres of petrol, and six illegal hawkers of the product in Abuja.
It stated that the managers of Azman filling stations in Nyanya and Kuje, suburbs of Abuja, were arrested after close monitoring by the team for diverting trucks of petrol meant for their stations to unknown destinations.
The corporation’s spokesperson, Ndu Ughamadu, said in a statement that the culprits had been handed over to the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps for prosecution.
He stated, “In addition to prosecution, the filling stations would pay N250 fine for each litre of petrol diverted.”