Nigeria’s fuel marketers, who are still not importing due to money owed them, have agreed to distribute fuel brought in by the state oil company, the main trade body said on Saturday, after talking with the new administration on Friday.

Major cities are still suffering from gasoline shortages despite the end of a fuel distribution strike.

 After the negotiation on Friday, fuel will become available not just at state-owned retail stations but those owned by major and independent marketers to reduce the queues of double-parked cars.

The dispute over subsidy payments brought much of Nigeria to a standstill in May, as it relies almost wholly on imports.

Nigeria now depends wholly on swapping its crude for fuel imports, Obafemi Olawore, spokesman for Major Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) said, as those waiting for subsidy payments are unable to secure commercial loans to bring in fresh supplies.

“At the moment we are unable to import because we don’t have the support from the banks,” Olawore told Reuters.

Olawore said MOMAN had contact with President Muhammadu Buhari’s new government and was optimistic that payments of around 291 billion naira (nearly $1.5 billion) promised in writing by the outgoing administration will be honoured.

A spokesman for the presidency said he could not immediately comment. Buhari’s new cabinet is unlikely to be inaugurated before the end of July.

Suppliers, dependent on subsidies, refused to distribute fuel for several weeks in May, over fears that if they were not paid under the old government that the cash-strapped new one would not be able to foot the bill and would scrutinize the costly subsidy payments that were the source of a $6.8 billion fraud scandal in 2012.

Electricity output was nearly halved and private generators that produce most of the electricity for the nation’s 170 million inhabitants ran out of diesel, days before Buhari’s inauguration as the new president on May 29.

Africa’s largest telecoms operator, MTN Group, said operations at its Nigerian services had been hampered despite the end of a fuel strike.

Nigeria must import nearly all of the 40 million litres per day of gasoline it consumes as its refineries have been either halted or operating well below 50 percent capacity since last year.

Source: Reuters