…Fire guts markets, destroys 34 shops***
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation(NNPC) has commenced the direct supply of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly known as petrol, to independent oil marketers in order to effectively clear the fuel queues still prevalent in some parts of the country.
It was gathered on Monday that members of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria had started receiving products directly from the NNPC for onward distribution to motorists and other fuel users.
Prior to the development, IPMAN members were getting PMS from major oil marketers and depot owners, a situation the independent oil dealers kicked against, as they argued that the association had the highest number of filling stations across the country.
The National Vice President, IPMAN, Abubakar Maigandi, told our correspondent that the recent fuel queues in the country became largely pronounced because most independent marketers had no product to dispense despite having widespread outlets.
He, however, stated that fuel queues, particularly in the northern part of the country, would soon fizzle out, as the NNPC had commenced the direct supply of products to IPMAN members on Friday.
Maigandi said, “The NNPC has imported products and our marketers have started loading. In the past, they (NNPC) gave only major marketers and the NNPC retail outlets. But now, they have started giving independent petroleum marketers our share.
“So, definitely, I know there will be improvement by next week because our trucks have started loading since Friday. And between Friday and today (Monday), when the products they load get to the northern part of the country, there will be noticeable improvement.”
He added, “Instead of going to the private depot owners and buying at a higher cost, independent marketers now get supply directly from the NNPC. The problem we had before was that the NNPC was allocating it products to DAPPMA (Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association) and MOMAN (Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria) and to their (NNPC) retail outlets.
“So, independent marketers get products from DAPPMA and MOMAN; and when we go there, they can give us at higher rates, which is the situation in some of their depots up till this moment. But the NNPC has started giving direct allocation to independent petroleum marketers at the same rate with what it gives to both MOMAN and DAPPMA.”
Maigandi noted that going by the latest development, the fuel queues being observed in parts of Niger and Kaduna states as well as in Abuja and other northern states would disappear in a few days.
In the meantime, huge losses befell traders at Better Life Market in Makoko, Yaba, and Mammy Market, on the premises of Armed Forces Resettlement Barracks, Oshodi, Lagos, as fire gutted the facilities on Monday.
PUNCH Metro learnt that no fewer than 34 shops were ravaged by fire in the two markets.
Our correspondent gathered that fire broke out from a shop in the Mammy Market around 1.30am and spread to the other shops.
The inferno was said to have been curtailed by men of the Lagos State Fire Service from the Isolo Fire Station.
It was gathered that groceries and provision stores were affected in the incident.
As the fire was put out around 3am, a distress call was said to have been received from residents around the Better Life Market in Makoko.
A resident, Tunde Adejare, said he observed the havoc wreacked on the market by the fire while returning from work around 6am.
“Over 20 shops were destroyed. Foodstuffs, clothes, shoes, among other items, were sold in those shops. Traders rushed into the market to know their fate. Many of them lamented; they could not salvage anything from the rubble. No one could tell where the fire started from,” he added.
The spokesperson for the Lagos State Fire Service, Shakiru Amodu, confirmed the two incidents, adding that the agency would work with relevant authorities to ascertain the causes of the fire incidents.
He said, “The affected shops in Better Life Market are a chain of structures. About 20 shops were affected. We received a call around 3am and Ilupeju and Sari-Igamu fire stations were deployed. It was put out around 4am.
“The Mammy Market fire incident happened earlier. We were able to put it out before it caused a lot of damage. Fourteen chains of shops were destroyed. We are still working with the Nigerian Army in order to ascertain the true cause of the fire.”
Amodu urged traders to be safety conscious and ensure that electrical appliances were switched off before they closed for the day.
“In most cases, some traders pass the night in their shops and fire breaks out in the process. We are urging market leaders to talk to those who use shops for accommodation,” he added.