The announcement of the now debunked increase in fuel price to N212.68 by the government owned Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency PPPRA without a doubt, caused panic-buying, commotion and endless queues in the state of Bayelsa and across the nation.
Despite the best efforts by the President, Muhammadu Buhari, the Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation NNPC to ease the tension and manage the situation in the country, there has been a ripple effect which has cascaded and affected all sectors of the economy including transportation.
The NNPC’s Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Dr. Kennie Obateru, in his address to newsmen in Abuja, said ex-deport price, which is the price at which oil marketers buy products at the depots and determines the price at which petrol stations would sell to motorists, will not increase, consequently urging Nigerians and motorists not to engage in panic buying.
He said, “NNPC stands by that statement that we issued on March 1, that we are not increasing the ex-depot price in the month of March, and that is what it is.
“There is no need for panicking and I can tell you from our own point of view that we will not increase the pump price of petrol and we are still standing by that March 1 decision.
“We have a sufficiency of product in the country and there is really no need for the public to panic. The ex-depot price for the NNPC is still at it is, it has not increased and in this month of March.”
In tandem with what he said in a separate press realease, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) and the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) denied any hike in the pump price of PMS.
Executive Secretary of MOMAN, Mr. Clement Isong, said the NNPC had assured members that they would not increase of prices in March, adding that the association has advised its members to continue retailing with the old price regime.
Despite the respective announcements from government and MOMAN, certain filling stations have either failed to regulate their pump prices and sell at the old pump price, or have adjusted to a new pump price only shy of N212 per litre.
Commercial vehicles and other transport companies, motorists, and Nigerians are paying the heavy price for the inconsistency by government, and their inability to regulate the fuel hike.
Cost of transportation has increased sporadically which has equally affected the price of food, and other goods thereby increasing the pain and suffering of Nigerians.
Since then, the Honourable Commissioner, Ministry of Transport, Grace Ayakpo Ekiotenne, has directed the Transport Union and Motor Park Operators to go by the agreement held on the 8th of February in a meeting between them and the Ministry of Transport.
She has called on the Transport Union and Motor Park Operators to uphold their own part of the agreement to enhance the existing peace in the transport system and the State at large.
The question remains “how does the government expect the transporters to adhere to the agreement, when it does nothing to control the fuel hike?”
The question persists, “is it the responsibility of the transporters and Trade Union to regulate fuel price?”
Clearly, the government has missed its mark and should do the needful. Logically, the agreement can only be adhered to if the government meets its own end of the agreement, and so far it has failed to do so.
However it is important to ask what the way forward is, and government needs to come up with clear solutions to de-escalate rising tensions in the state.