Fuel scarcity worsened on Friday across the country as several motorists and passengers were stranded.
Long queues of motorists persisted at filling stations, leading to gridlock and the unavailability of commercial vehicles on the roads of major cities, including Lagos, Owerri, Ibadan, Abuja, Kaduna and Katsina.
Several Nigerians told our correspondents that they were unable to go to their workplaces due to the “terrible” situation.
Saturday PUNCH gathered that as of Friday, black marketeers had taken advantage of the situation, selling a litre of petrol at between N200 and N1,000 in several cities across the country.
In the Federal Capital Territory, many civil servants, who received bank alerts for their December salary late Thursday, did not go to work, but headed to bus stations with the hope of travelling out of the city for Christmas.
But many of them were stranded at the stations as commercial drivers had hiked their fares by about 50 per cent in reaction to the fuel scarcity.
Checks at various bus stations in Abuja indicated that many residents were finding it difficult to get to their destinations due to the non-availability of commercial vehicles, many of which were stuck in queues at filling stations.
Drivers at Utako complained that the fuel scarcity had affected their business and revenues, noting that they spent most of the time they should be working in queues.
A driver, Abdullahi Salman, said they had to hike the fares because they had been buying fuel from the black market at cut-throat prices.
“To get fuel at filling stations, you have to queue for a considerable length of time, so the only way to fill your vehicle’s tank is to buy from the black market at N300 per litre. So we had to adjust the fares accordingly,” he said.
He lamented the impact of the scarcity on travellers and berated the government for not doing enough to address the issue despite several promises by officials.
At Nyanya, travellers going to Benue and Plateau states were sighted at the roadside waiting for vehicles that were not available.
A civil servant, Joy Emmanuel, who said her salary was paid on Thursday, stated that as of 3pm on Friday, she had spent five hours at Nyanya looking for a commercial bus going to Jos.
The Secretary, National Union of Road Transport Workers, Mr. Olugbade Olagunju, said it appeared that some people created the fuel scarcity in order to prevent Nigerians from celebrating Christmas.
“It is terrible that Nigerians now face fuel scarcity every December. It is giving us the impression some people do not want Nigerians to celebrate or enjoy Christmas,” Olagunju stated.
In the Maraba area of Nasarawa State, there were vehicles queuing for fuel at Shafa Petrol Station and the NNPC mega station at Gwadara.
In Jos, Plateau State capital, motorists kept vigil at the NNPC and other filling stations in a bid to buy petrol. The NNPC mega stations sold the product at N145, while some independent marketers hiked their prices.
In Kaduna, fuel stations owned by the independent marketers remained closed due to non-availability of petrol, while motorists resorted to sleeping at fuel stations where the product was available.
The Department of Petroleum Resources said it had sealed over eight filing stations in the state. The Head of Down Stream Monitoring and Operations of the DPR, Alhaji Yahaya Maishera, said the fuel scarcity in the state was as a result of panic purchase and hoarding by some of the marketers.
In Ibadan, Oyo State capital, there were long queues of motorists at a few petrol stations selling fuel, thereby causing gridlock on the major roads.
Some motorists, who spoke to one of our correspondents on Friday, said they had spent between two and three days sleeping at fuel stations, where the commodity was sold at the official price of N145.
However, black marketeers sold the product at prices ranging from N200 to N600.
Findings revealed that black marketeers at the NNPC, Apata and Sabo areas of the city sold five litres of fuel at between N2,000 (N400 per litre) and N3,000 (N600 per litre), a situation that led to commercial drivers hiking transport fares astronomically, as a journey of about five kilometres that used to cost N200 increased to N400 as of Friday.
The situation was similar in Lagos, the country’s commercial nerve centre, where gridlock was seen on the major roads as a result of long queues at filling stations.
A resident, Chief Perkins Onome, wrote via his Twitter handle @poabaje, that a litre of fuel was being sold for as high as N1,000 by black marketeers in areas like Lekki and Ajah.
“I just witnessed five litres of fuel being sold at N6,000 in some parts of Lekki; five litres at N5,000 in Ajah; and N3,000 in some parts of Mainland. I witnessed these prices today (Friday). Very shocking that people are boldly selling petrol for N1,000 per litre and even higher. And people are buying it!” Onome said.
Another Lagos resident, Abubakar Maigandi, said via his Twitter handle @KauraKaura1 that “I’m lucky to have bought fuel at N400 per litre in Agege.”
A nurse, simply identified as Miss Bunmi, told one of our correspondents that she couldn’t go to work as she was unable to get a commercial bus.
“I stayed at the bus stop for close to three hours but couldn’t get a bus. I had to call my boss, who said I should return home. There were several passengers stranded at the bus stop,” she said.
In Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, the fuel scarcity crisis also worsened on Friday, while filling stations sold the product at between N220 and N230 despite threats by the Department of Petroleum Resources to clamp down on fraudulent marketers.
Saturday PUNCH observed long queues at filling stations, while motorists and passengers groaned due to the development.
A motorist, Peter Amaechina, lamented, “It has not been easy. Filling stations are not selling fuel. Some of them have fuel, but they do not want to sell. Some of them who are selling are selling at N215 per litre. They are selling at nights to black marketeers.”
Meanwhile, the situation led to the increase of transport fares by around 200 per cent in Owerri, Imo State capital, where a litre of fuel sold at N250 per litre.
Apart from the long queues at various filling stations, Saturday PUNCH observed as passengers and workers trekked long distances to their various destinations.
Long queues of motorists were also seen at the few filling stations selling fuel in Katsina, the Katsina State capital, on Friday.
A drive around the city showed that the few petrol stations selling fuel were not using fuel pumps, with some claiming that their pumps were not working, thereby selling inaccurate quantities to motorists.
Motorists and residents of Enugu, Enugu State, also groaned as a litre of fuel sold at between N250 and N300 even as there were long queues at a few filling stations selling the product.
Saturday PUNCH found out that the situation led to a hike in transport fares in the city as commercial buses and tricycle (aka Keke NAPEP) riders doubled their fares.
Meanwhile, the development has already ruined the festive mood of some residents, with some saying the condition had forced them to shelve their plans of travelling for the Yuletide holidays.
For instance, a businessman, Afam Ekeh, told Saturday PUNCH, “I can’t afford to buy fuel at N280 per litre, so I have decided to put off my plans.
“I am no longer travelling. In fact, I will not drive my car again until the fuel price comes down.”
A housewife, Mrs. Tessy Eneh, also said, “My family planned to travel, but the current transport fares are too high. So, we will just stay at home and have a quiet Christmas.”
Long queues were also experienced at several filling stations in the major cities of Ogun State, including Abeokuta, Sango-Ota, Ifo and Ijebu Ode.
Due to the situation, commercial vehicle operators increased fares, leading to groaning by commuters travelling on both intra- and intercity routes in the major cities.
The Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps Task Force set up to monitor the sale and distribution of petroleum products has sealed two filling stations for selling above the official pump prices in Minna, Niger State Capital.
In an interview with Saturday PUNCH in Minna On Friday, the State Commandant of the Corps, Mr. Philip Ayuba, said the two Conoil filling stations located in Chanchaga were shut for what he referred to as ‘fraudulent’ activities.
Ayuba said the action would serve as a lesson to others who were taking advantage of the scarcity of the products to defraud the public.
He said the clapdown on such illegality would continue until normalcy returned, adding that the task force was also monitoring filling stations in the event of products’ diversion.
Ayuba warned that the Corps would deal decisively with any marketer who aided artificial scarcity in the state.
Original post by http://punchng.com/nigerians-in-pains-as-fuel-scarcity-bites-harder/