Barely two months after the fuel scarcity, which bit Nigerians so hard, long queues have resurfaced in some fuel stations in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT); TOPE SUNDAY reports.
In the earlier week of February, Nigerians started to experience fuel scarcity owing to some adulterated litres of PMS, which were inadvertently imported from Belgium and released into the market. The adulterated PMS contained high methanol, which ended up damaging many car engines. Upon discovering the problem, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) embarked upon an exercise to clean up the contaminated product from the market. It was this cleanup exercise that inevitably caused the scarcity.
During that period, many Nigerians struggled to go to work or engage in other daily routines. This development led to an increase in the cost of transportation, and many people were left stranded at various bus stops, while others could not foot their bills as a result of the fuel scarcity. During the period, many car owners and commercial drivers were worst hit, and many workers were also greatly affected by the development.
As a result of this development, many filling stations were shut, while others were besieged by motorcyclists, tricycle owners, as well as private and commercial drivers, thereby causing heavy traffic on the roads. Also, Blueprint Weekend had reported how black marketers engaged in brisk business at the inception. Around February, black market prices of fuel were hiked to between N4,000 and N7,000 for a 10 litre of petrol, which could have been sold for between N1,620 and 1,600 before its scarcity.
The current fuel scarcity, according to the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC), is caused by the low load-outs at depots, which usually happened during long public holidays. The NNPC spokesman, Garba Deen Muhammad, in a statement said, “The NNPC Ltd notes the sudden appearance of fuel queues in parts of Abuja. This is very likely due to low load-outs at depots which usually happen during long public holidays, in this case, the Sallah celebrations. Another contributing factor to the sudden appearances of queues is the increased fuel purchases, which is also usual with returning residents of the FCT from the public holidays.”
However, this reporter, who monitored the development in Abuja on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, observed that it has taken a toll on the economic activities of the FCT as its residents have their daily routines and activities adversely affected. While some were stranded, others are now spending their previous time at the fuel stations, queuing for the PMS to aid their mobility.
Visits by this reporter to some fuel stations along Kubwa Express Way, showed that both private and commercial drivers had besieged them anticipating getting the commodity. Also, by 7pm on Tuesday, a long queue was observed at A.A. Rano Fuel Station at Jabi. Though there was no official communication from the management of the station, car owners were seen struggling to get entrance into the fuel station.
A motorist, Emeka Joel, alleged that he had spent almost six hours at the station with the hope of getting his car filled as at the time of speaking with Blueprint Weekend.
A resident of the territory, Prince Damilare Ojo, told our reporter that he set out from his house to one of the fuel stations at Dawaki in Bwari Area Council around 5am on Wednesday to purchase PMS. According to him, he spent almost five hours at the station to get the commodity.
“I was billed to travel to Kano today (Wednesday) with my boss, but I did not have fuel and I had to leave my house around 5am searching for the PMS. However, I got it at AA Asaf at Dawaki at the rate of N165 per litre after almost five hours on the queue. Though I got it, the pain I have gone through was too much. Nevertheless, I am happy, I later got it,” he said.
While Ojo was lucky to have his car filled, a barber at Jahi 11, Blessed Noah, lamented that his means of livelihood is threatened by the fuel scarcity because he did not get the commodity for two days at a stretch, but had to rely on the black market to power his generating set.
Noah told this medium that the development might force his to increase his charges from N300 to N400, adding that power supply was a problem before the fuel scarcity resurfaced.
“We don’t usually have constant power supply, and now that we are experiencing fuel scarcity, my business is threatened because getting fuel has become another major concern. Soon, I may decide to increase my charges from N300 to N400. However, my concern is, will my colleagues do the same? If not, my business is at the verge of collapse because customers won’t understand when you increase the price of the service, we all understand what everyone is passing through at this moment’, he said.
Also, a school teacher, Agnes Mathew, said she was frustrated by the development, adding that she now paid for an extra fare to go to her workplace. According to her, she had to pay Okada riders extra fare from Gishiri to Jahi junction to avoid being late to work.
However, this reporter observed that Okada riders have tactically hiked their fares from a normal N100 per drop to between N150 and N200; while at the rush hours embark on a short journey.
A taxi driver, Mohammadu Auwal, said because of the nature of his business, he patronised black marketers to keep his operations going, adding that he had tactically hiked his fare. According to him, short trips of N100 per drop have been ‘adjusted’ to N150.
He said: “Most of us, taxi drivers, now patronise black market, and we are buying fuel of N400 per litre. In the real sense of it, it is not profitable for us to still maintain the old fare. So, we have adjusted the fare to recoup our money. We can’t spend hours at fuel stations like private drivers. We have to keep operating and considering this, shorter routes which were N100 per drop before have been adjusted to N150.”
He called on the government to urgently address the development to make life worth living for Nigerians.