Many Nigerians on Sunday shelved their planned trips to different parts of the country for Christmas, as the current scarcity of Premium Motor Spirit pushed up transportation costs, with black market operators selling the product to desperate motorists for as much as N400 per litre.
After more than a year of relief from fuel scarcity in the country, fuel queues returned to filling stations across the country in the first week of December and has worsened since then.
In Lagos, many filling stations were shut while the few that sold the product had long queues of desperate motorists and other petrol seekers, with the attendants having a field day as they charged between N200 and N500 extra before selling to buyers in jerry cans.
In Kano, many motorists spent at least five hours in queues at filling stations, a development a motorist, Mallam Wada Inuwa, described as “energy-sapping and agonising.”
Inuwa, who wondered why fuel scarcity had become a tradition, particularly during the Christmas and New Year celebrations, appealed to the appropriate authorities to take proactive measures to address the ugly trend.
Lots of Nigerians, especially traders from the South-East, who had planned to travel to their respective home states from Kano for the Yuletide, had to shelve the trips.
Transporters increased the fare for the Kano-to-Lagos route from N7,500 to between N10,500 and N11,000, with only a few buses willing to undertake the trip.
“I wanted to get 30 litres at the black market and I was told to pay N12,000. At some filling stations in Maryland, Lagos, petrol attendants were collecting N500 extra to sell in kegs,” Mr. David Okoko told one of our correspondents.
Mr. Femi Likolo said he refused to buy five litres for N2,000 at the black market somewhere in Mile 12 and had to queue at a station for over three hours.
A motorist, Mr. Julius Opawale, said the scarcity had had a cascading effect on transportation and food prices, among others.
Meanwhile, the Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Economic Summit Group, Mr. ‘Laoye Jaiyeola, said, “As long as you are importing fuel, you will be subject to the vagaries of foreign exchange control. As long as you are doing regulated pricing, uniform pricing, it can’t work. We need to allow appropriate pricing.
“So long as we are importing, we are going to pay the price. But when we do it locally and we have our pipes laid and can transport the products to every part of the country, we will solve the problem. So, let’s hope that all the refineries locally that are being worked on will come to fruition soon.”
President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday broke his silence on the lingering fuel scarcity in the country, saying he had directed the regulators to end hoarding of the product and price inflation.
He said he had also been assured by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation that the situation would improve significantly in the next few days.
Buhari stated this in a statement he personally signed and posted on his verified Twitter handle, @MBuhari.
Describing the fuel crisis as regrettable, the President sympathised with Nigerians who he noted had been enduring needless fuel scarcity.
The President stated, “The fuel scarcity being experienced nationwide is regrettable. I sympathise with all Nigerians on having to endure needless fuel queues.
“I am being regularly briefed, especially on the NNPC’s interventions to ensure that there is enough petrol available during this period and beyond. I have the NNPC’s assurance that the situation will improve significantly over the next few days, as new shipments and supplies are distributed across the country.
“I have also directed the regulators to step up their surveillance and bring an end to hoarding and price inflation by marketers. Let me also assure that the relevant agencies will continue to provide updates on the situation. I thank you all for your patience and understanding.”