Oil marketers in the South West Zone of the country have commenced loading of petrol in Apapa, Lagos State as the major depots offer 24 hours service.
A Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria who monitored petrol distribution at the depots on Thursday, reports that more than 1,000 tankers were loading the product.
NAN reports that the articulated vehicles were sighted at Capital Oil, Folawiyi, NIPCO, Aiteo, Mobil, Rahamaniya, De Jones and Integrated Oil loading points.
It will be recalled that the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachickwu, had on March 29 assured Nigerians that the persistent petrol scarcity will end by April 7.
Some of the depot owners, who preferred anonymity, disclosed to NAN that workers had been compelled to do 24-hour massive loading of petrol since April 5 to ease the scarcity.
They claimed that about four vessels bearing 33,000 metric tonnes of petrol had berthed to discharge into storage facilities under the throughput arrangement agreement with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
The depot owners said the deadline set by Kachikwu for fuel queues to disappear on April 7 might not be achieved.
According to them, most trucks that load in Apapa do not only serve Lagos metropolis but also travel to other states in the South West.
One of them said: “We are faced with logistics challenges in loading some of the trucks because some of the marketers who are in joint vessel allocation delay in clearing their lines.
“The vessel which was meant for three marketers takes longer time to discharge due to some hitches of discharging into their storage facilities.
“Another challenge has to do with clearance from the Navy, PPPRA, DPR and other agencies in charge of inspection to ascertain marketers who are going to be paid on subsidy schemes.
“It is easier to discharge to a marketer than joint allocation of many marketers.
“This is another cause of delay in loading of the product.”
NAN also reports that as at 10am on Thursday, long queues of tankers dotted the service lanes of Apapa-Oshodi Expressway from Cele Bus Stop to Ibafon Jetty.
Security officials had a hectic time controlling traffic to ensure that the truck drivers complied with traffic rules.
According to a marketer who identified himself as Alhaji Saliu Abiodun, Capital Oil and Gas has commenced a 24-hour service.
Abiodun, who urged other depots to follow suit, confirmed that about 46 million metric tonnes of petrol was expected to be injected into the supply chain from Thursday from the NIPCO Depot.
He said the delay in getting approvals from the relevant authorities to give clearance to cargoes was also slowing the loading process and compounding the scarcity situation.
NAN reports that most filling stations on Ikorodu Road, Apapa, Ikorodu and Ikeja areas were selling though there were long queues.
NAN observed that motorists at filling stations had been orderly than the previous days, which often caused serious gridlock on the roads.
On Ikorodu Road, vehicular movement was hindered at NIPCO Station at Fadeyi and Forte Oil at Onipan, where there were long queues of vehicles.
At Fatgbems filling station at Second Rainbow, Okada riders and some commercial buses locked down the road in a bid to get petrol.
On Iju Road, Agege, Imola filling station equally had long queues of vehicles in spite of selling a litre of petrol at N180.
Justin Ezeale, the Executive Director of Supply and Distribution of the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company, on April 6 gave Nigerians assurance that the scarcity would soon end in Lagos, Abuja, Kaduna and other cities.
Ezeale, at an interactive session with newsmen in Lagos, said the interaction became necessary to solve the petrol problem badly affected areas.
He said about 294 petrol tankers were distributed in Lagos on Tuesday, while another 336 would be supplied on Thursday, adding that Abuja had received its own supplies as well.
Ezeale said government was aware of the problems arising from distribution of petrol, hence its decision to adopt proactive measures in addressing the issue.