Filling stations in Abuja and neighboring states were shut on Tuesday leading to lengthy queues by motorists for Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, at the few outlets that dispensed the commodity.
The petrol scarcity was a result of the warning strike embarked upon by the Suleja Depot Branch of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria.
The three-day warning strike by the oil marketers started on Monday which stopped their members from lifting petrol from the depot to more than five states in the North including Abuja, a development that caused scarcity on Tuesday.
Reason being that they had no product to dispense. However, black marketers in front of the filling stations and opposite NNPC headquarters used the opportunity to sell their wares at higher rates to motorists.
Members of the union commenced the strike on Monday in protest against the continued indebtedness of the Federal Government to oil marketers with respect to the payment of fuel transportation costs, otherwise called bridging claims.
Government officials kept mute about the situation when contacted.
The IPMAN Suleja Depot Branch Chairman, Yahaya Alhassan, said marketers had stopped the supply of products from the depot, as the union had prevented trucks from moving PMS to the northern states.
He said marketers were withdrawing their services until the Federal Government settled their outstanding bridging claims of N50.5bn. Yahaya added that the three-day warning strike would go on if the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority fails to remit the money.
“At the expiration of the warning strike on Wednesday, if they (NMDPRA) fail to pay us, the stoppage of supply would continue indefinitely,” Alhassan stated, adding that all the appeals that the association made to the authority to pay the debt had been ignored.
In a similar development, the National Executive Committee of IPMAN said on Tuesday that it had been informed of a series of unwarranted attacks against members loading petroleum products across NNPC depots and private depots.
It said the attacks were within Rivers State “by a group of disgruntled people using the army and police and claiming to be acting on order from above.”
IPMAN President, Debo Ahmed, said members of the association should “kindly be informed that we have not authorized anybody to harass or intimidate our members under the guise of levy collection.
“On behalf of IPMAN NEC, I direct that you withdraw your services anywhere you find them trying to execute this evil plot.”