Nigerians have never had it so bad in a long time. Even the usual scarcity that characterizes the end of every year did not surface as expected last December.
But just when Nigerians were coming to terms with a notion that the issue of fuel scarcity has become history, the problem struck again, leaving Nigerians aghast and catching many unaware. For over one week now, Nigerians have been digging fuel out of â€˜stoneâ€™.
In every state across the federation, long queues of vehicles at filling stations have become the order of the day. The prevailing fuel scarcity in the country has taken its toll on motorists, families and businesses across Nigeria.
Nigerians are once again at the mercy of shylock marketers who feed fat at the expense of the ordinary people. Stranded passengers at bus stops are now common and transporters have hiked transport fare to the high heavens. Commercial bus drivers are having a field day and fuel-pump attendants are having a swell time.
Fuel hawkers have taken the centre stage, milking dry innocent motorists who are left with no option than to patronise them. Although it was reported that NNPC has opened up its reserve to ease this crippling shortage that has caused long queues of vehicles at petrol stations across the country, little or no impact of this is being felt.
Also, despite the claims by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that it has sufficient stock of the product to meet consumersâ€™ needs, the lingering fuel shortage has continued unabated.
Those who depend on fuel and electricity to run their businesses are biting their fingers as they cannot depend on generators anymore in the absence of electricity. In the same vein, companies that survive on generators are running at a loss, even as the scarcity has taken its toll on the economy of the country in general.
In Lagos,many filling stations are closed, selling only at midnight to black marketers , while the few that are selling have long queues.
Almost every filling station dispensing the product is selling above the official pump price of N97 per litre, while others collect tolls before allowing motorists inside their premises. Five litres are selling at N1,250 while two litres are selling at N500 in the black market as at Thursday.
A colleague bought a keg of 25 litres at N8,000 from callous hawkers who were â€˜doing businessâ€™ with the filling stations. Across Nigeria, itâ€™s the same tales of woe as our correspondents report.
Hard times for residents as marketers sell at N150 per litre
By Tony Edike, Enugu
Residents of Enugu State capital and other towns in the state are facing severe difficulties as a result of the rising cost of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol. Price of petrol has risen above the official pump price of N97 per litre to N150 in Enugu capital city and its environs.
Saturday Vanguard investigations revealed that apart from few major marketers that occasionally sell at the regulated pump price, all the independent marketers had since last week hiked the pump price to between N140 and N150 per litre.
While the independent marketers are smiling to the banks, most stations operated by the major marketers have remained under lock and key as the pump attendants were seen playing games.
Several motorists who queued to buy the product at N150 per litre at a private station along Presidential Road, Enugu lamented that the price hike had imposed severe difficulties on them.The development has, however, compelled transporters to hike fares, pushing the effect of the hike to the commuters. For instance, transport fare from Abakpa to Obiagu which normally cost N50 has been jerked up to N100 instead of initial N50 while Enugu to Onitsha which hitherto cost N700 now cost N1,500.
An attendant at one of the stations who simply identified herself as Onyekachi, blamed the situation on the scarcity of the product. He said: â€œIf the product is not scarce as NNPC is claiming, why are the DPR and PPPRA yet to force marketers to sell the product at the official price?
â€œThe product is scarce and because of the scarcity, we are no longer getting regular supplies.â€
An independent marketer who preferred anonymity said that â€œwe are spending more to source the product from Lagos and other places and we should not be expected to sell below cost price. All the trucks we sent to Lagos since the past two weeks could not lift as there is no product.â€
An official of the Tanker Driversâ€™ Union, Enugu State branch, who didnâ€™t want his name in print said on phone that they stopped loading the product at the Enugu depot of NNPC for more than a decade running. A motorist with God is Good Motors, Emeka Okafor, also expressed worry over the situationsaying, â€œI am disturbed by this situation because I thought that the Federal Government had solved the problem of fuel scarcity permanently in the country.â€ Okafor appealed to the Federal Government and â€œappropriate agencies of governmentâ€ to take immediate measures to arrest the situation. â€œGovernment should do something fast to make the product available and save the poor masses from more economic hardship,â€ he urged.