Citizens lament as kerosene scarcity bites harder
•Marketers have refused to import product due to scarcity of dollars, says NNPC
The scarcity of kerosene, used by millions of largely poor Nigerians for cooking, has hit major cities causing huge increase in price. The situation has also caused some residents to turn to alternatives such as firewood and cooking gas.
Some kerosene consumers in Lagos at the weekend appealed to the Federal Government to assist the masses by making the product available for them at a reduced price. In her comments, Mrs. Moradeyo Adisa, a widow, who resides at No 10, Abeokuta St., Ilasamaja area of Lagos, said that she bought a bottle of kerosene for N250.
Adisa said the product was sold for N300 per litre at the filling station against the official price of N83, while retailers sold at N350 per litre. She urged government to do something about it to make life more bearable for the masses during this biting recession.
Another consumer, Mrs. Kikelomo Joseph, a 67-year-old food vendor at Agege area, said she had turned to firewood to cook her food because kerosene was expensive. “Instead of spending over N3,000 on kerosene to prepare food for my customers, I have adjusted to using firewood, because it is a bit cheaper.
In Kaduna, none of the filling stations visited in the state capital on Saturday had kerosene (DPK) for sale. In one of the stations, the attendants said the scarcity began on January 2, as they got no supply from Lagos and Kaduna refineries.
In Calabar, the scarcity has led to an increase in price to between N350 and N400 per litre from less than N300 per litre. It is also being sold for N350 per litre in Lagos as against the earlier price of N220 at the few filling stations still having the product.
A News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) survey on Sunday showed that the product was not available in any filling station in most states of the country. However, the product was available only in surface tanks in parts of the city, where dealers sold it for between N350 and N400 per litre.
A resident, Elizabeth Sunday, decried the situation and described it as greed on the part of the product marketers. “This is bad for us the poor people of this country. I am a widow and I don’t have money to buy gas cooker. Now the price of kerosene is out of my reach and it is hard to feed nowadays. My appeal is that government should do something to change the situation in the interest of the masses,” she said.
This development has pushed consumers to turn to alternatives. In Kaduna, the kerosene scarcity has led to a 30 per cent increase in price of cooking gas. At the popular gas vendor station on Ali Akilu Road Kaduna, a seller attributed the price hike to the scarcity of kerosene.
“From yesterday, we started noticing more people coming to buy gas. And because of the sudden demand, some of us started to increase the prices and yet people are buying. Before this morning, we used to refill the 12kg cylinder for N3,500, but now refill it for N4,200,” the trader said.
Maryam Malam, a bean cake (akara) seller at Unguwan Yero, Kaduna, said the kerosene scarcity has led to a reduction in the volume of firewood sold per price.
“I bought N100 firewood this afternoon and the quantity has reduced because everybody around is buying,” the akara seller, who uses firewood for her cooking said.
In its reaction to the scarcity, the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) at the weekend said there was no drop of kerosene in the private and NNPC depots in Lagos. Rotimi Benjamin, National Chairman of Surface Tank Kerosene Peddlers (SUTAKEP) branch of NUPENG told the newsmen in Lagos that the product was last brought to the depot on December 27, 2016.
He urged the government to come to the aid of the masses, who could not afford cooking gas, by supplying kerosene to the depots so that it would be available in filling stations.
When contacted, Ndu Ughamadu, Group General Manager, Public Affairs, NNPC said most marketers have refused to import kerosene due to scarcity of dollars and the fluctuating crude oil prices. He said NNPC had no control over marketers as that is the responsibility of PPPRA and DPR.