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A source of livelihood for ordinary men


Black-marketer-pixAt the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Road, Ejigbo, Lagos almost all the traders selling engine oil were selling petrol in kegs by the roadside.

Both sides of the road were littered with kegs of different sizes. You can get to buy any quantity of fuel you want provided you can afford it. Both the low and mighty were going there to buy fuel in black market.

The moment motorists slowed down, sellers rushed to the roadside with a keg of 4 or 5 litres of petrol, beckoning on the motorists to come and buy from them.

The sellers were mostly teenagers who ought to be in school and women. Most of them were not willing to divulge and information concerning their business.

The men were mostly unemployed tanker drivers doing the business to eke out a living.
At the end of the road by NNPC Ejigbo junction was a young girl who was selling petrol for her mother.

This conversation ensued with girl

“How is market?”
‘The market is not moving,’ she replied.

“Because most people prefer to go to the filling stations to buy petrol rather than to come and buy from us. They say that our price is too high?’

How much are you selling a litre of petrol?
‘I sell at N200 per litre.’
Is that not on the high side?
“No, we buy at N160 at the filling station and we have to transport it here. So the price is not high.’
What about the danger inherent in the business?
‘We just try as much as possible to avoid anything that might cause fire.’

A stone’s throw to where the girl was selling petrol was another lad, Daniel (eight-year-old), who was clad in a jumper and trousers.

The moment he saw the reporter he came out from the shed at the back of the container where he was living with his parents.

He grabbed the 5 litres keg of petrol on the pavement and looked at the reporter like somebody in need of help.
Are you not too young for this business?

‘I am doing the business for my father?’
Why did you not go to school?
‘It was not long that I stopped going to school.’
Which school was that?
‘Glorious Heights by Pipeline.’
Which class were you?
‘I was in primary three before I stopped going with my siblings because my father could not afford to pay for our school fees.’
How much are you selling the five litres of petrol?
‘It is N900 because the keg is not full.’
In the process his father,Tunde Afolabi who hails from Osun State appeared.

Afolabi who was a fuel tanker driver, came out of his abode just opposite IPMAN House, NNPC Road, to introduce himself as the father of the lad.

He said that he was not selling petrol in black market that somebody gave him the fuel so he decided to sell it to use the money to feed his family.

Afolabi who was a fuel tanker driver said that his children had stopped going to school since he lost his job two years ago.

“They are only going for lessons. Daniel was in Primary 5. David was in Primary 3. Sarah was in Primary 2 before they stopped schooling. My wife, Adeola is now doing menial jobs to get money to feed my family.”

As for another seller who introduced himself as Mr Babatunde, he admitted that he is doing the business to survive.
“One must survive. We buy at the filling station to resell it here, that is why it seems that the price is expensive. I went to the filling station around 4am today (Wednesday) by the time they started selling fuel it was N140 per litre. I cannot buy at N140 and sell less than N200. I have to add some additional expenses to the price.”

Another person doing the business, Mr Kabiru said that he is doing the business to put food on his table.
“I am a tanker driver by profession, I am doing this business to survive. I have two children.”

He said that it was not easy for him to get the petrol to buy at the filling station.

“You have to tell the petroleum attendants that you want to buy petrol for your generator before they would be ready to sell to you.
“I bought petrol at N160 at the filling station and I am selling at N200.”

Kabiru said that the petrol they are selling is not adulterated.

“It is better to buy from us because you can see the quality of what you are buying. At the filling stations some of the petroleum attendants can even pump air into the fuel tank of your car. ”

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