Black marketers in Nigeria’s Southeast are making brisk business selling premium motor spirit (PMS), popularly called fuel, for as much as N500 and N600 per litre as scarcity of the product persist in the zone.
This even as few independent marketers that have products sell between N220 to N250 per litre.
Southeast residents woke up last week to notice that fuel stations were not selling products, while few that sold had raised their prices to between N200 and N250 per litre, a situation that has persisted for about a week.
The scarcity, Business Hallmark learnt, was caused by an industrial action by the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN). The association, since last week, shut down the supply of petroleum products in the zone over an issue between one of its members and the Imo State government.
This started when the Imo State Government, under former governor, Rochas Okorocha, in it’s urban renewal and expansion programme, embarked on the demolition of some properties to allow for expansion of major roads. One of the properties destroyed was a fuel station and the proprietor approached the courts claiming damages against the Imo State Government.
The fuel marketer is reported to have won the case he instituted with N100 million compensation ordered to be paid to him. He awaited the ordered compensation from Government which was not forthcoming, Sam Hart, aide to Abia State governor, Okezie Ikpeazu narrated on Sunday.
IPMAN Imo State, consequently intervened on behalf of their Member and sought to have Government resolve the issue. Events were not to their satisfaction and in solidarity with their Member, they decided to stop selling fuel in Imo State.
Subsequently, tanker drivers who supply fuel to Imo State and neighbouring areas also joined in the solidarity protest leading to tankers queuing up in border communities in Imo State awaiting resolution of the impasse before they can resume supplies.
Security Agencies waded in and appealed to the Marketers to call off the protest as tankers, laden with fuel, massed at entrances to the State, were a Security risk. The security Chiefs promised to meet with the Governor to have the issue resolved.
In the midst of the impasse, the Imo State Government was reported to have directed it’s citizens to go to neighbouring states to buy fuel until the Marketers in Imo State have a rethink.
This directive, according to Mr. Hart, did not go down well with the Members of IPMAN in neighbouring states who in-turn, suspended sale of petroleum products in solidarity with their brethren in Imo State.
The NNPC Deport supplying the South East have equally stopped supplies to avert crisis.