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Nigerians groan as fuel scarcity bites harder

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Nigerians groan as fuel scarcity bites harder

Fuel scarcity which surfaced on Monday with queues yesterday spread to many filling stations in Lagos, Ondo and Abia states as well as other parts of the country. Several motorists said they were caught unawares by the sudden scarcity while others believed that marketers were hoarding fuel to cause artificial scarcity.

Still, others blamed the scarcity on panic buying. Motorists in Aba, the commercial hub of Abia State, bemoaned the sharp increase in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) by the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN).

Our correspondent, who went round the city, reports that while some marketers around Park Road and Milverton area sold a litre of PMS at either N144 or N145 on Monday but it jumped to between N148 and N150 yesterday.

Some of the transporters, among them Mr. Kelechi Chukwu, said that if nothing was done by the Federal Government and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to ensure adequate supply of the product across the country, there would be an increase in transport fares during the festive season.

They said that the increase had not affected transport fares at the moment. Chukwu said the situation could result in panic buying and hoarding which could give room for dubious individuals to sell adulterated PMS to unsuspecting members of the public. A marketer disclosed that the price of the product depended on the part of the country where they sourced fuel from.

He said: “You may not be aware that when others where selling petrol at N145, I was selling at N144 and the N148 we are selling now (Tuesday) is because of the part of the country where we sourced the product from. So, we will reset the pump price to the approved price as soon as we start getting the product at a normal price.”

There was panic buying in Akure metropolis yesterday as there were rumours of increase from N145 to N160 per litre.

Most of filling stations were closed down yesterday morning except some major marketers, who managed to sell to customers who were on long queues to buy in their cars, motorcycles and jerry-cans.

The scramble to get petrol ahead of the reported fuel hike decreased considerably as many filling stations had begun operations yesterday evening, still selling at the official N145 per litre. However, some independent marketers shut their filling stations to motorists in different parts of the state as at the time of filling this report. A frustrated cab operator, Femi Ajanaku, at Ojota area of Lagos metropolis said: “I am sick and tired of this country called Nigeria.”

The cab driver spoke after waiting endlessly to buy fuel at MRS Filling Station at Ojota. Ajanaku said he had waited for more than four hours in the scorching sun to buy fuel. He said: “It is not easy staying in the sun, waiting to buy fuel. This is a natural gift we are blessed with by God but here we are suffering to get it.

“Countries which are blessed like Nigeria in terms of natural resources are not going through the stress we are witnessing in Nigeria. I have visited about two other filling stations in parts of the state but they were selling beyond the regulatory price. It was a friend of mine who directed me to MRS here at Ojota, where they sell their own at N145 per litre. Government should look into it urgently because we are suffering and dying.”

Mrs. Morenike Ogunbajo, a retired civil servant, said while she was waiting for her turn to buy fuel at MRS she prayed for the country to come out of the series of problems confronting it. She said: “I have also stayed in the sun for about two hours waiting to buy fuel, because of the huge traffic at the station.

We have been struggling with petroleum problem in this country for long.

Each government which comes promises to solve it, yet we have not been able to solve the problem. Mr. John Chukwu, a cab operator, urged government to fix the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, saying the traffic in that corridor was preventing the truck drivers to access the depots. He said: “I believe the fuel price has been fixed to the peak, I don’t know where they want us to go now because I heard they want to increase fuel price once more.

They are maltreating us in this country; we cannot continue like there is going to be solution one day.” When our correspondent visited Owena and Biode motor parks at Ojota, transport union members said they had not jacked up transport fare. A driver, who identified himself simply as Oche, who plies Lagos to Makudi in Benue State, said Lagos to Makudi was N5,000.

He said: “We still retain the old fare, but we pray the scarcity does not go beyond this week.” While, Lagos to Ibadan still remained at N1,500 for cars and N1,000 for buses and Lagos to Akure still remained at N2,500, Port Harcourt transport fare goes for N5,000 for cars and N4,500 for buses.

Mr. Jide Idowu, a driver at Owena motor park, said Abeokuta from Lagos remained at N1,000, while Ijebu-Ode was still N1,000 and Sagamu was N700.

According to him, Ore in Ondo State is N1,450, and Ondo town goes for N2,500. He said: “I see no reason why somebody should decide to frustrate the effort of the present government why we the masses are always at the receiving end. Whoever wants to make the country unbearable for us will not know peace because we are dying silently and the elite are enjoying.”

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