By Solomon Asowata
Lagos – The Liquefied Petroleum Gas Retailers (LPGAR), a branch of Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), has condemned the current arbitrary increment in price of LPG and supply shortage across the country.
The Lagos Branch Secretary of LPGAR, Mr Olukayode Solomon, in a statement in Lagos on Tuesday, said the group was dissatisfied with the sudden upsurge in price of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) by tank farm (LPG depots) operators.
Solomon said that the upsurge appeared to be due to a deliberate reduction in supply or rotation of supply amongst the tank farms.
He said these had led to about 90 per cent increment in the price of LPG, commonly known as cooking gas, within a space of one week.
Solomon said : ” It is likely that this ugly situation will continue if there is no urgent intervention, especially as Christmas and New Year approach.
“Though the increment began about a month ago but did not significantly reflect in the price sold to end-users because retail outlets had absorbed the difference believing it would soon normalise, however, without any sign of imminent supply or pricing crisis, the price in the last one week suddenly skyrocketed, reaching about 90 per cent high.
“Just a week ago in Lagos and some neighbouring states, 12.5kg of LPG was sold between N2,600 and N3,000 in retail outlets. It is now sold between N4,000 and N4500 at retail outlets owing to sudden hike in the price by tank farm operators.
“If this situation remains unchecked, it is capable of undermining the expected development of LPG sector in the country, which has been championed by the government and other stakeholders over the years.”
According to him, the situation will increase hardship on Nigerians, especially the low income earners who are beginning to adapt to LPG for both domestic and commercial uses.
He said that some had already started abandoning their cylinders for other sources of cooking energy such as firewood and saw dust, which pose a great risk to their health and the environment.
Solomon also noted that LPG retailers have to contend with end-users who often accuse them of being responsible for the increments.
“Unknown to most of the end-users, LPG retailers are the worst hit as they have been reduced to the status of mere agents toiling day and night to make LPG available to Nigerians, often with little or no profits because of the monopoly of a cartel.
“Our union over the years has been decrying what it views as manipulation of the sector by a few privileged individuals and business concerns in Nigeria, including some multinationals operating in the oil and gas sector.
“The people behind the business organisations benefiting from this arbitrariness are the same people that have been creating the impression within the government quarters that insufficient retail outlet in Nigeria is the problem militating against the deepening of LPG in the country.
“ They do this in order to secure approvals and incentives for establishment of retail outlets to the detriment of small and medium size LPG businesses,” he said.
Solomon said one of the factors affecting LPG business was the failure of the multi-nationals to invest in LPG production and provision of storage facilities (tank farms).
He said: “If enough production or importation of LPG is made and enough storage facilities provided, LPG will become affordable and accessible to Nigerians.
“There are hundreds of thousands of business-minded Nigerians who are willing and ready to penetrate even the remotest villages to stimulate LPG usage and also meet demands.
“Our union is calling on the government and the rest of the stakeholders to urgently intervene in order to restore sanity.
“There is nowhere in the world that government leaves such a vital sector solely in the hands of a few commercial interests, especially where there is apparent case of manipulation.”