Artificial fuel scarcity continues in Benue, fares go up
Capital has been partially shut down due to non-availability of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise known as petrol, as almost all petrol stations did not open for business. Consequently, black marketers have cashed in as they sell a litre between 250 and 300 Naira, as against the official price of 145 Naira.
One of the black marketers that spoke to The Guardian on the grounds of anonymity said they get the product at night from filling stations at normal price and are making huge profits. The situation has triggered increase in cost of transportation within and outside the state capital as many people now prefer to trek long distances.
Investigations reveal that the scarcity was caused by members of the Petroleum Tankers Driver (PTD) who are in solidarity with one of their members that was manhandled by men of the National Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) while on his way to deliver petroleum products.
Owners of filling stations decided to shut their stations in fear of likely vandalisation by hoodlums who are in sympathy with the PTD.
However, according to the state Commandant of NSCDC, Shuayb Jibril Mahmoud, the tanker, which was Kogi State bound was diverted and heading towards Katsina-Ala before his men arrested the driver and handed him over to the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).
Mahmoud, barely three months in the state, said the NSCDC had the mandate to checkmate petroleum products diversion and had waited for explanations from the tanker driver to no avail before the fuel was sold to members of the public by the DPR.
He further alleged that the driver, which the members of PTD are protesting for, is a tout at the NNPC depot Makurdi whose role was to ensure that the diverted product arrive its destination.
However, chairman of the PTD in the state, Joseph Gungur said the strike will continue until their demands, which include the payment of N6.8million and N500, 000 for the seized PMS and treatment respectively, is met.