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From Kero to Zero: Nigerians groan under high cost of kerosene

BY EBUN BABALOLA
A fresh wave of  kerosene scarcity has engulfed the nation and consumers are not smiling. Long queues are visible at filling stations and the product sells between N150-N300 per litre.

At  that  price range per litre, kerosene has never been so costly in Nigeria. The experiences of consumers vary from person to person.
Early in the week, Mrs Ebere , a mother of twins left her home around 4.30 am in the cold weather in search of kerosene. She got an information that there was a supply of kerosene at the NNPC filling station along Oshodi/Apapa Expressway.

She was expecting to return home as soon as possible but that was not to be. She spent almost the whole day at the filling station.  She could have gone to other filling stations but unfortunately there was none. As it is, only NNPC  was selling the product in her area while other retailers are selling at the mercy of the masses. They now sell at different prices ranging from N150 and N200 depending on their decisions.

When Saturday Vanguard visited the NNPC filling station along Apapa/Oshodi expressway, the number of  kegs queued  for kerosene were so much that, it might be difficult for a woman who is there with her four- litre keg to buy kerosene. At NNPC filling stations, a lire goes for N50.

The presence of uniformed  men made  the situation  calm. The uniformed men were also there to buy kerosene. Both policemen and  soldiers were there to buy kerosene. While some uniformed men were  sympathetic to the ordinary people, others were there because of their selfish interests. Some came with more than large  kegs  of  different sizes to buy kerosene . In the same view, some of the civilians who came in search of the same product have not been faithful to themselves as they came with different kegs in different sizes.

According to  Mrs. Chika, a teacher who was  there with her four litre keg, “ some of the people who came to buy kerosene are there in the spirit of buying at a cheaper price to sell at a very exorbitant price. Some sell a litre of kerosene at the rate of  N150 and N300 depending on their desire. I am here to buy kerosene because it is cheaper than what is attainable in my area.  A litre of kerosene goes for N300.

I thought, I will be able to buy kerosene but as it is, everything depends on God. The soldiers don’t want us to buy,. They occupied the place. If God wants me to buy, then, He will make a way for me, if not I  go back home. I have been searching for kerosene for a while before I finally heard that it is available at NNPC depot but I have not been able to buy. The last time I bought kerosene in the filling station was in March”, she said. .

Sarah Reboh said, she has been in the filling station since 7 am but she hasn’t been able to buy.

“ I am here because a litre of kerosene is sold for N50 per lire and  I felt, it is cheaper for me to buy but  unfortunately, I haven’t been able to buy. I am still hopeful and I might be lucky. “

Samson Ajewole is a manager of  one of the NNPC stations and he said  it has been difficult to control the crowd,  adding that the presence of  the uniformed men has been helpful. “Although, they are here to buy kerosene but they have been loyal to the people by not using any forceful means to buy the products. They were the ones that re-organised the people. There are two  lines, one for civilians and the other for the  uniformed  men.  We haven’t been able to attend to the uniformed  men and they are not complaining. They are really assisting us.

“ The problem we have been having  is that, some people brought more than one keg ranging from 10 litres above but we make sure that we don’t sell more than one keg to one person except they use an indirect way. We deal with people accordingly and we are doing our best to ensure that everybody gets kerosene.

If I see anyone with two kegs, I will not attend to the person. We will ensure that people get kerosene, it might not be today but definitely, people will get kerosene. The last time, kerosene was sold here was April. It goes for N50 per litre at NNPC.

“ The most annoying part is that most of the people who come to buy are marketers who would want to re-sell and they make things difficult for the management of the filling station to sell. If it were to be only the end- users, the crowd will not be up to this. The fact is that the same thing happens in other regions.

It is very difficult because of the scarcity. It is left to the people to be orderly in order to be able to get kerosene. There is no problem with petrol, people buy what they need and go but the problem with kerosene is that people buy more than they need. I have been to four stations this   morning as  I was passing and saw this crowd and decided to stop by to know what the situation is like.”


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