The scarcity of fuel in Enugu took a new dimension on Thursday as independent petroleum marketers withdrew their services, alleging that the government had compelled them to sell at government-approved price.
Almost all the filling stations in the state capital, including major marketers, closed shop on Thursday.
The only station selling the product on Ogui Road witnessed a large crowd as motorists struggled to buy the product at N160 per litre.
Commuters, especially school children, were stranded in the hot sun after school as most commercial vehicles were off the road in search of fuel.
Reacting, the Acting Chairman of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) in the South East, Chief Chukwudi Ezinwa, told NAN that the members closed their stations as a government task force led by a commissioner compelled them to reverse to the approved price.
“The Commissioner for Inter Ministerial Affairs, Pastor Dan Anike, went round yesterday compelling marketers to sell at the normal rate of N97 without knowing the problems we face in buying the products,’’ he said.
Ezinwa said the commissioner embarked on the exercise without officials of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).
The IPMAN chairman said that an emergency meeting had been scheduled to discuss the matter on Friday.
In his reaction, the Operations Controller of DPR in the state, Mr Peter Ijeh, regretted that the independent marketers had refused to sell at the approved rate.
The controller said the marketers obtained the product at the official rate but refused to dispense same at the approved rate.
“They always claim to buy the product from the source at between N110 and N120 per litre which is not true.
“If you look at their manifests, you find out that they bought the product at the normal rate but they refused to sell at N97,’’ he said.
The operations controller said the department would embark on an enforcement drive, adding that any filling station owner found hoarding the product would be arrested and prosecuted.
On why major marketers are not selling the product, Ijeh said that most of them had not got the product.
In his reaction, the Commissioner for Inter Ministerial Affairs, Pastor Dan Anike, said that he did the enforcement at two filling stations belonging to major marketers.
“The manifest from the NNPC showed that they were supplied the product at the normal price and have no reason to hike the price above the official price of N97 per litre,’’ Anike said