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Traumatic weekend for Lagosians, others over fuel scarcity


Long queues at a filling station

Long queues at a filling station

IT was a traumatic weekend for many Lagos residents and other parts of the country as citizens grappled with fuel scarcity, which hit the country last Friday as a result of the strike action embarked by Major Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN).

The fuel scarcity did not only cost residents to spend long hours on long queues in petrol stations, it also led to cancellation of several engagements as citizens found it difficult to get the premium product to transit.

Consequently, fuel price rose to an all time high of N300 per litre in the black market and N200 in a few fuel stations that had the product.

As a result, transport fares and prices of essential goods went up astronomically beyond the reach of the average Nigerian worker, who incidentally marked the Workers’ day last Friday.

For example, transport fare from Ojodu/ Berger to Mowe went up from N100 to between N250 and N300. It was also the same in various part of the metropolis.

Commercial motorcyclists also raised their fares to between N200 and N400 for routes where they normally collect between N100 and N150.

The situation was compounded with the drop in power supply as many parts of Lagos metropolis were without electricity, thereby making life hellish.
Although, signs of respite was noticed yesterday as some fuel stations began to sell the product to motorists following the decision of MOMAN to resume fuel lifting and distribution, tales of pains and sorrow still linger among residents.

According to Collins Udeh, a lawyer who lives in Mowe, Ogun State, it was not a weekend he could forget in a hurry as he was forced to cancel several engagements, especially the Assemblies of God’s District Sunday Sunday School Rally billed for Abeokuta on Saturday.

Udeh, who was to attend the programme with some members of his local church, said he was saddened because he has promised to take them to the venue in his car only to disappoint them on that fateful day.

According to him, he made frantic and futile efforts to get fuel from the black marketers, but the price was sadly too exorbitant, as they sold the product for N350 per litre.

Residents of Akute working in Lagos, who used to enjoy the privilege of riding motorcycles because of the bad road on this axis, also had an unpleasant and painful experience over the weekend.

Apart from the hike in transportation, the cost of grinding pepper in the market also went up.

For instance the cost of grinding a bowl of tomatoes, which goes between N100 ads N150, went up for between N200 and N250 depending the size of the bowel.

A tomato seller at Mile 12, who simply gave her name as Iya Sikirat said, the increment was caused by the hike in fuel, since the engines are powered by fuel.

She said: “ My brother, we don’t see electricity here, that is why I have to use the fuel powered engines, we are not happy about the situation but there is nothing we can do about it”.

It was also a similar situation for Mrs. Comfort Ojekunle, who lives at Ifako as she was forced to abandon a wedding ceremony of her childhood friend at Festac Town because of the fuel situation.

She said: “I was very bitter because of my inability to attend the wedding, I have already called to apologise but it was a traumatic moment I wished I could do something about.”

But while residents groan over the scarcity, the black marketers were having a field day as the scarcity persisted.

One of them, who spoke on condition of anonymity along Gbagada – Oworonsoki Expressway, said the product went as high as N450 a litre as motorists get desperate.

According to him, although motorists are quick to look at the gain margin, it is not commensurate with the time and sacrifice made to get the product.

The black marketer said, he would prefer an early resolution of the impasse to ensure the availability of the product as some of his colleagues had lost their lives as a result of fire outbreak.

It will be recalled that the MOMAN and the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) at the weekend reached an agreement with a view to arriving at an amicable resolution of the problem.

According to the Executive Secretary, MOMAN, Mr. Femi Olawore, filling stations would start receiving supply from Sunday.

Also to resolve the problem, the Federal Government is reported to have paid members of MOMAN N154 billion out of its N354 billion subsidy debt, leaving a balance of N200 billion.

MOMAN on its part is indebted to the NARTO to the tune of N20 billion which prompted the transport union to stop lifting fuel.

Part of the money was paid to NARTO in proportion to the N154billion received by the MOMAN.

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