…Drivers, Customers Lament
By Chioma Ndife
Sequel to the announcement of a new price regime for petrol by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Administration, Fides went to town to monitor its compliance or otherwise by petroleum marketers in the state.
Fides gathered during a visit to various filling stations in Awka that the newly introduced fuel price took effect within two hours after the announcement of the increase.
Fides also observed that the reverse was however the case when fuel price was reduced to 123 naira as it took the better part of a week on the average, plus the combined effort of petroleum monitoring team, for most filling stations to comply.
Speaking to Fides on reasons for their immediate adoption of the new pump price, a dealer at Mobile Service Station in Awka, Mr. Okey Enekwe, said the new price was adopted based on the new market value.
‘In petroleum business, you don’t talk about old stock, new stock or incoming stock; marketers operate based on the market value,’ he said.
Enekwe said that Mobile Company, among other major marketers, adhered to government directives whenever a directive was issued out, noting that most marketers however awaited approval document from the price regulatory body or NNPC before adjusting to newly mapped out prices.
He maintained that the price adjustment at times took immediate effect and might be delayed at other times due to the various templates that were considered to prevent marketers from selling below cost price.
He explained that most people were only concerned with fuel pump price without taking other factors such as price of haulaging, retail price to dealers, among others, into consideration, noting that reaching agreement, which, he said, took all factors into consideration, might take up to a week or more.
Enekwe stated that fuel prices were not manufactured by marketers and described the marketers as agents of the Federal Government of Nigeria who were licensed to sell at government control price and were paid commission by the government for marketing their products. He disclosed that automatic adjustment mostly took place whenever there was an increase in fuel price as the federal government, among others, would want to make profit, noting that adapting to price reduction mostly took time as the marketing company and NNPC Management weighed the production value of the products remaining in their tank, at sea and their various outlets before the adoption took effect to prevent running below the production cost.
Also speaking, the supervisor of NNPC Mega Station, Awka, Mr. Obiora Odoh, said the station adhered to new pump prices after the reception of a memo from their headquarters, saying that they mostly followed instructions from memos; not through radio or television advertisements.
He said the station in the last four months took some time to adjust to the reduced price as the memo was not received in due time.
Contributing, another supervisor at NNPC Mega Station, Mr. Ifeanyi Chima, explained that NNPC, as the property of the Federal Government, operated at approved government price, noting that only independent marketers had the exclusive right to take old or new stock into consideration while adopting the price changes as NNPC could not do such.
He revealed that the members of staff of NNPC Mega station in Awka did not have powers to effect price changes in the pumps, as they mostly awaited an NNPC officials from Enugu to do so whenever there was change in price.
Chima advocated for a two week-time frame to be issued by the Federal Government or Independent Marketers Association before the adoption of any price change, saying that such would help the people prepare for the new change when it had to do with increase in price and assist independent marketers to sell off their old stock in case of price reduction.
Speaking on the effect of the Pump Price, An Urban Mass Transit Driver, Mr. Uche Ben Emenike, said that the new pump price had increased the money which they spent on fuel from N1, 300 to N1, 700, saying that they could not increase the amount which they currently collected from passengers.
He noted that the transport company, in a bid to adhere to WHO directives during the coronavirus pandemic, started carrying two passengers per row at 500 Naira each, as against the 300 naira which they were collecting before.
He feared that a further increase in the transport fare from Awka to Ekwulobia and verse-vasa would throw them out of business as those he referred to as pick and drop drivers were currently collecting N300 per person while carrying three per row. He said the daily take home of most drivers had reduced more.