By Ishola Balogun, Olayinka Ajayi & Kehinde Ajose
Anger, pain and indignation were not enough to explain the feelings of thousands of stranded commuters going to their workplaces and areas of businesses from different parts of Lagos five days after queues returned to filling stations in Lagos. Many of them were seen sitting in groups discussing the effect of the fuel scarcity in Lagos Metropolis.
While many resorted to trekking, apparently after waiting for several hours for commercial buses, others were sighted sitting on culverts, stones, or anything they could lay their hands on to ease the pain.
From Ogijo, Ogun State through Odongunyan, then Maya, Parafa, Ijede through Ikorodu to Mile 12, the story was the same. Saturday Vanguard observed that many of those who were at these various bus-stops as early as 5am waited for three to four hours before getting respite in already loaded buses.
At Ikorodu roundabout and Agric bus-stops, angry commuters Wednesday, reined curses on government and those responsible for their plight. Busari Jimoh who lives along Sagamu Road, said he waited for several hours at the bus stop close to his house but had to later walk, first to Sabo and then to Benson, in Ikorodu to get bus to Oshodi.
He lamented that at each of these points, the story remained the same with several hundreds of people also waiting to catch a bus. “God will inflict pains on all those who are behind this fuel scarcity and causing untold hardship to Nigerians. For the past three to five days, it has been difficult under already difficult economic situation.”
He explained that apart from the Red buses, all other commercial buses have hiked their prices with more than 100 per cent. “All the Star Buses and the danfos have increased their prices to N300 from N150. The danfos are now collecting N300 to Ketu from Ikorodu which used to be between N100 to N150. But right now, we can’t even see them. It is a terribly situation,” he stated.
Another middle aged woman who refused to mention her name said:, “government takes delight in inflicting pain on Nigerians. If it is not electricity, it is fuel scarcity. They don’t do anything right. They have politicised everything.
They think God will not ask them, or they think they will not share from the pain they have caused Nigerians. They will surely reap in many folds, the pains they are inflicting on Nigerians. Just look at how people are scampering for bus to their destination, the few ones that came are already loaded, I cannot stand for several hours here and yet still stand in the bus for several hours in the traffic. They are really killing us in bits,” she said.
A civil rights activist and a social crusader and a one time presidential candidate, Dr Chris Nwokobia said: ‘It is sad and terrible. It pains and hurts to imagine how much pain Nigerians go through for a product that should be everywhere. It’s a misnomer of sorts and shameful.”
At Ipaja, Ayobo part of Lagos, the story was the same when Saturday Vanguard visited the area. According to Tayo Adejumo, an entrepreneur in the area: “In my area, there is no fuel at all either black or white market. I queued for about one hour. It’s crazy.
The one I bought for my car days back has gone down. Electricity has never been reliable. These days, you do your meetings over the phone rather than driving to meetings. The sad part of is that nobody knows the cause and when is likely to end.”
Tosin Ajibade, Social media marketer said: Getting fuel hasn’t been easy. There was no information that there will be fuel scarcity. The long queues started suddenly, characteristic of Nigeria and since February. No one knew it was going to happen soon. Getting fuel was not easy. I could not wait in the long queue, so I decided to buy black market. The guys sold 24 liters for me for the sum of N4,000 and I was begging them to bring the price down, they didn’t.”
David Ijeh, Photographer in the neighbourhood said: “It is very tragic and annoying that as an OPEC country, we still struggle to get fuel. The last time I bought fuel for my car, I spent twice the amount I usually expend. It’s about N200 per liter. This is not good for the new Nigeria we advocate for. The annoying thing is the hold up that results as a result of the endless queues .We trust God for a new Nigeria, but our present experiences is a far cry from it.”
In a chat with one of the commercial bus driver Saheed Oyewo who shares his ordeal on how he paid double the amount of money for buying a 10 liters of petrol. “Truly, the scarcity is highly deliberate because, how will the fuel attendants convince us beyond reasonable doubt, that they are servicing there meters during the early hours of the day meanwhile referring us to buy from the roadside black markets that sell 10 liters for N2,500.
This is where I strongly believe these marketers make more money when people are being faced with fuel ‘wahala by sending these touts to sell to people in high prices” he lamented.
They will soon justify that people are buying it in exorbitant prices and there is need to hike the pump price. In the same vein, a banker also stated that “it was a gimmick by the fuel marketers and NNPC to reap money for themselves. The NNPC should stop fooling Nigerians about the scarcity because they are behind the suspension of Lamido Sanusi. If they are trying to earn the missing $20 billion exposed by the Central Bank Nigeria Governor it should not be to the detriment of Nigerians.”
He added: “If truly NNPC is sincere there should be stiff penalty for those marketers that are behind such selfish act to the detriment of everybody affected directly or indirectly” he stated.