Fuel retailers have accused private depots of being responsible for the shortage of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) popularly called petrol across the country by increasing the ex-depot price of petrol from N148.69 per litre to N163.
This was even as it said the inability of retailers to source petrol at the official ex-depot price of N148.69 from NNPC owned depots was also a major factor contributing to fuel scarcity.
National President, Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Association of Nigeria (PETROAN), Mr. Billy Gillis-Harry, in a telephone interview with Daily Sun yesterday, said depot owners are profiteering by cashing in on the current situation to profiteer.
He added that some unscrupulous depot owners who engage in acts of profiteering, sabotage and related sharp practices have contributed in no small way to create the current fuel scarcity.
Gillis-Harry said contrary to assurances by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) sole importer of petrol that it has not increase price of petrol, depot owners have gone ahead to raise price of the product.
‘‘This development remains a source of concern to my members because we cannot access the products from NNPC. So, if that is the case, where do the private depot owners get their products from since NNPC is the sole importer of petrol,’’?.
He said the development has forced most retailers out of operation since they cannot get supply adding that it would be illegal for retail outlets to increase petrol price above the price band approved by NNPC.
According to him, retail outlets increasing prices would be doing so illegally or because they bought the product far above the approved retail price and would want to still make profit.
The PETROAN President advised government to summon a stakeholders meeting to truly ascertain what the actual landing cost of petrol is, adding that deregulation of the downstream sector is the way to go.
But a depot owner who spoke to Daily Sun in confidence confirmed the unofficial increase in the ex-depot price of petrol.
He told Daily Sun that since there are supply shortages leading to rationing, depot operators with retail outlets would naturally prefer to lift products to their outlets instead of selling to other retailers because they are not sure of when the next supply would come from NNPC.
He confirmed that there are few bad eggs among depots owners, as not all of are members of the association.
‘‘I can confirm to you authoritatively that there are well over 200 depots but from our books, only about 50 are our financial members. So, for those that are not our members, we don’t know what they do behind the scene, and as such, we cannot sanction them,’’ he said.
– The Sun