Filling stations across the country are currently battling to make enough sales as usual, following the recent increase in pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly known as petrol from N86.50 to N145, and perhaps the current recession in the Nigerian economy. Business Times investigation on Sunday, revealed that apart from commercial buses that buy petrol for the purpose of their businesses, private car owners now prefer to go out in public buses. Upon the hike of petrol to N145, prices of goods and services and bus fares have skyrocketed, as we noticed an average commuter would rather board ‘Molue’ at cheaper prices of between N50- N70 than the usual ‘Danfo’ at higher prices starting from N100 and above.
A survey of activities at some of the filling stations around Lagos, showed that even as petrol is no longer scarce and marketers now have free hand to import, fewer vehicles now patronise petrol stations; more of commercial vehicles as against private cars. And as one commuter rightly said, “SUVs seem to have disappeared from our roads”. “Dem don dey beg us to come buy petrol o (Filing stations rarely sell these days. They now beg us to buy more),” a commercial driver simply identified as Okechukwu said. Even as many filling stations do not have any reason to sell below the official price of N145 for more gain, many now give discount or sell for less, as their boards boldly display N143, N142 in order to attract more buyers.
Business Times took time to visit few branches of NNPC, AP, Mobil, Forte Oil and others- their attendants were seen sitting most of the times, only getting up to attend to customers who trickle in. “We don’t even know what to say is the problem, whether it is because there is no money in circulation and things are very expensive, or to say the low patronage is because government increased petrol to N145. Patronage has reduced. We don’t sell like before. As I am standing here, I have not even sold up to N50,000 since morning which was not so in the past,” an attendant of one of the NNPC outlets who begged for anonymity told Business Times.
Further observation showed that generator owners hardly put them on as most people now reserve their petrol for either pumping water, ironing, and other household needs instead of for pleasure such as watching television. “As the economy is now, I don’t even put on my generator at night anymore. Even if I do, it’s on rare occasions. Business does not sell like before and petrol is expensive. We just have to manage,” Kayode Akinfenwa recounted his experience in the present economic situation. In May, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, said Federal Government had removed subsidy, and had increased petrol price to N145 per litre.
The new pricing template for Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA also reflected the new price. The minister said that all Oil marketers will be allowed to import the product on the basis of foreign exchange procured from secondary sources. The minister explained that the decision to remove the subsidy was reached after a meeting attended by the leadership of the Senate, House of Representatives, Governors Forum, and Labour Unions such as the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC), Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN).