The situation in most petrol stations in Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital has improved as the fuel queues have reduced and motorist are delighted at the new development.
This is because the Department for Petroleum Resources (DPR) has continued to monitor the sales of the product and residents of the city have asked for the continuity of this exercise.
The Director of Petroleum Resources at the DPR, Mr Mordecai Ladan, who led a team of officials to some filling stations in the Federal Capital Territory and its environs warned that the agency would not condone any form of sabotage by the marketers in creating artificial scarcity of the product.
Consequently, some petrol stations who were not dispensing fuel appropriately have been sealed by officials of the DPR and they have promised to further sanction fuel marketers who divert petroleum products.
While residents of Abuja enjoy the stress-free buying of fuel in less than ten minutes, officials of the DPR have promised to ensure that fuel supply by fuel marketers is not sabotaged.
For now, residents of Abuja can heave a sigh of relief from hours of wait at petrol stations. They also expect that adequate measures would be put in place to ensure availability of the products in the days ahead.
Again, a measure appears to have succeeded and as is usually the tradition, once motorists no longer feel the pinch of the scarcity, they forget the underlying issues.
After a while, we are doomed to repeat the same cycle of long queues, public outcries, series of statements from NNPC offering the same explanations that have been repeated over the years, apologies by governments, token station shutdown in front of media cameras followed by a period of relief.
The truth is DPR does not have enough man power to fully enforce laws on the thousands of filing stations (legal or illegal) littered across the country and the police either lacks the will to do so or would view it as an opportunity for financial gain.
At the heart of our petrol scarcity challenge in Nigeria is the fundamental fact that we have not been able to get our refineries working, increase the number of refineries in the country (modular and large scale) and squarely address the issue of pipeline vandalism.
This raises the core issue of the petrol subsidy. Unless the Federal Government develops a policy framework to tackle those key questions, we might as well pick up our watches and count the seconds, minutes and hours until the next scarcity hits.