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Pains, Pains When The Pumps Go Dry

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scarcity 1 ALTHOUGH fuel marketers called off their strike action last week, motorists across Lagos State still battled to buy the product. At the AP filling station at Ladipo (along Agege Motor Road) on Wednesday, motorists who had trooped out en masse to buy the precious liquid were disappointed, as the filing station failed to dispense the product.

Many people who could not afford the sudden hike in fares by commercial bus operators were forced to trek to their destinations. Same day, Awolowo Road in Ikoyi, Lagos, was impassable because of a gridlock that resulted from motorists queuing up to procure fuel at Oando filling station, along the road. Driving down to Falomo, in Ikoyi, however, black marketers were seen with gallons of fuel up for grabs by any motorist who found long queues unnerving.

Many motorists said that after frustrating but unsuccessful attempts to buy the product at fuel stations, they eventually gave up and turned to the very expensive but mysteriously abundant black market supply.

Of course, this is at the price of never being able to verify the genuineness or otherwise of the product. Some commercial bus operators cried that the scarcity adversely affected their business, as stubborn passengers refused to comply with their new charges.

When The Guardian visited Ikeja, Ojota, and Mile2, some filling stations were locked up, causing desperate motorists to fall back on black market prices of N1000 per five-litre keg: what should ordinarily have cost N485 at N87 per litre.

scarcity 4Vehicle owners who had hoped to find the product at even N100 per litre at filling stations were disappointed. Fares charged by commercial bus operators jumped 50 to 100 per cent.

The fare from Ikeja to Yaba shot up from N120 to N200, while Ketu to Ikorodu climbed from N100 to N200. Oshodi to Mile2 went up from N150 to N200. Several places in Lagos also witnessed gridlocks, as motorists struggled to buy fuel at filling stations.

Along Airport Road, emergency roadside dealers, clutching gallons of the elusive product, struck happy bargains with long-faced buyers.

A banker, Mr. James Oyeku, who lamented the scarcity, said: “I believe that fuel is available, but marketers are trying to increase the price for their selfish interest.”

A passenger, Damola Edward, decried the exorbitant cost of fuel and the grueling traffic situation in the state: “From Obalende to Bar Beach/Eko Hotels, we used to pay N100. Now, drivers have increased it by 100 per cent.

The worrisome part is that despite the short distance, you would spend almost an hour and a half because of the gridlock. “Okada (commercial motorcyclists) that used to help out in times like these have been banned from operating in the city.

scarcity 3Government must rescind the decision in the interest of the people. We are suffering seriously; the situation cannot go on like this. Apart from hike in fares, commercial vehicles are even unavailable.

I stood on one spot for an hour waiting for a bus to take me to my workplace without success.” A commercial driver, Idris Yusuf, blamed the hike in fares on scarcity of petrol, which he said forced operators to buy the product at high black market rates. He said: “It is not our fault.

I woke up as early as 5am in the morning to search for fuel. When it got to my turn, after queuing for hours, I was told that the product had run out. Should I drive away empty handed? I eventually bought 10 litres at N2,000 from the roadside.

In all fairness, we have little choice but readjust the fares.” For Olalekan Pekun, the scarcity translated into temporary abandonment of his private car. He said: “It has been so difficult for me.

For over a week, I have not taken my car out. A full tank normally costs me N6,000. Now, the same amount would only fetch 40 litres, which is far from being enough.

Many motorists said that after frustrating but unsuccessful attempts to buy the product at fuel stations, they eventually gave up and turned to the very expensive but mysteriously abundant black market supply.

I rode to work on a commercial bus and it is telling on my health. The price of everything has gone up and it has become harder to save money. “I think Nigerians are to blame. If we had allowed the removal of subsidy, the government would, this time, have had no excuse for not providing the commodity. But now, we have fuel selling for as much as N130 in some parts of the country.

What is the difference between N130 and the proposed no-subsidy rate? We get easily comfortable in this country. We never follow any agitation to a fruitful end.

Once we make a noise for a few days, we just slip back into our shells and move on with life.” One commuter, Mr. Emma Bakare, voiced his anger at the sudden increase in fares.

scarcity 8“Why would transport operators want commuters to make up for the extra cost? I believe government ought to move in and solve whatever is responsible for this scarcity. I don’t know when this suffering over fuel would stop.”

Chairman, Southwest chapter, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Mr. Tokunbo Korodo, however, said that there had been a delay in the approval of import allocation to the oil marketers.

According to him, “The import allocation was given last week and you know everything has due process. The marketers would have to contact their banks, order the product, and ship it to Nigeria. As such, it will take three to four weeks for the product to get to Nigerian soil.”


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