The Federal Government has been charged by oil marketers to remove and dispense the products presently trapped in the depots.
The oil marketers revealed that the oil trapped in the depots were lately shut down by the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA).
Talking about the fuel crisis across the country, marketers called for the products to be dispensed at the regulated rate of N148/litre to enable address the shortage of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol.
NMDPRA claimed that it did its calculation to ensure that the effect of the shut depots did not significantly impact the affected zones.
According to NMDPRA, it would now inspect the tanks of filling stations and other depots in order to curtail the hoarding of fuel.
The Secretary, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Abuja-Suleja, Mohammed Shuaibu, speaking with Punch on the development said that the government should go beyond closing down depots.
He said, “It is not just by shutting down the depots. If you shut down the depots when there are products in them, and you didn’t evacuate the products at the regulated price to the public, then you may end up causing more PMS supply problems.
“If you are a regulator, go in there and enforce, let them open the gates, bring in tankers to evacuate the products to the public so that there will be surplus fuel that will help in driving down the price.
“But by the time you shut down the depots and the products remain in their tanks, we won’t get the products, and who suffers when two elephants fight? The masses will suffer and we are suffering now. These are the consequences.”
Shuaibu added, “So the NMDPRA should open up the depots and allow them to dispense the products at the regulated price. It must also make sure it monitors it to the letter. But by the time you shut down and tomorrow open, and these are businessmen, are you helping the situation or causing more harm?
“These people have products and you are shutting them down, why not regulate it if you want to enforce it? And if anyone is found wanting, punish the person, not by shutting down.”
But the NMDPRA dismissed fears that the shutdown of depots could lead to fuel scarcity in many parts of Nigeria.
Ahmed said, “In shutting down the depots, we calculated to see what effects it would have on the flow and distribution of petroleum products. We have enough products across the country.
“We also looked at the availability in other depots within the zones and we realised that even though we shut the seven depots, the effect on the supply within those zones is not going to be significant.
“It will also help us by making those who are hoarding bring out the products because the next level is to go and start checking the tanks of petrol stations and depots to ensure that no marketer or retailer is hoarding the product.”