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The N97 Fuel

NORMALCY is creeping back to some aspects of national life, but the effects of the nationwide strike over fuel are telling. Maybe for weeks, they would be felt and the national economic losses are too obvious to ignore.

Strikes have their down side of shutting people down even psychologically. People are trying to get their system back to work and the circumstances are not helping.

Those stuck in different parts of the country are returning to their bases, paying transport fares that have failed to revert after the announcement of the new price of N97. Prices of food and other things have gone up, reflecting higher costs of transportation.

At N97, marketers have closed their stations. The same stations that sold the product at N140, and above and only closed to save their facilities during the strike, have refused to sell after the strike. The stations are mostly empty, their gates locked and there is usually nobody to explain the non-availability of the product.

It is excruciating getting the product at the few places that sold. In Lagos, queues quickly appeared and worsened the traffic situation. Road side hawkers were in business, selling at exorbitant prices. The price ranged between N150 and N180 per litre. Where are they getting their product if not from the filling stations near their operations?

We hope nobody is playing at the old game of making the product scarce as a justification for selling at N140 per litre. After government announced the new price, it meant a guarantee that it would pay the subsidy. Marketers have no reason for not selling since they already have the product.

Some of them have resorted to selling at odd hours above the official price or to hawkers who re-sell the product sometimes adulterated. Would there have been fuel if the price were still N140? The present scarcity is artificial, a ploy by marketers to make more money from subsidised fuel they had bought last year.

It is not enough for government to announce the new price, the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, has a duty to implement it. The new price is part of concessions government made to end the strike. Was it a fluke?

Fuel scarcity hits the country almost with the same impact as strikes. If people cannot get around or fuel their generating plants, since electricity supply is unreliable, the economy would continue bleeding, worsening the losses of the past week.

Government intervention is required urgently to end the evolving scarcity, which is capable of extending the adverse effects of the strike. Without fuel, the economy will be back to the same standstill that the strike imposed on it.

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