May 26, 2015

How fuel scarcity crippled Nigeria

How fuel scarcity crippled Nigeria

A man carries jerrycans to search for fuel in Lagos, on May 21, 2015. Long queues formed at petrol stations across oil-rich Nigeria on May 21 following a row over subsidy payment to petrol importers as well as sale of government oil blocks to private investors, union officials said. AFP PHOTO

By Chioma Gabriel

LAGOS—Nigerians across the country have been suffering untold hardship as fuel crisis persisted since the weekend, triggering increase in the price of food commodities, transport fare and general cost of living.

Threats from MTN

Just recently, Nigeria-based South-African telecommunications giant, MTN Nigeria threatened to shut down its operations across Nigeria due to diesel shortage. MTN threatened that if it did not receive a significant diesel supply within 24 hours, it would shut down its operations.

A statement by the MTN Nigeria Corporate Services Executive, Akinwale Goodluck read; “MTN’s available reserves of diesel are running low and the company must source for a significant quantity of diesel in very near future to prevent a shutdown of services across Nigeria.

Long queue of jerry cans at a petrol station as fuel scarcity bites harder, yesterday. Photo: Joe Akintola, Photo Editor.

“If diesel supplies are not received within the next 24 hours, the network will be seriously degraded and customers will feel the impact.”

Nigerians from different walks of like told Vanguard in an encounter that if the fuel scarcity does not subside, other major mobile phones operators – Glo, Etisalat and Airtel may be confronted with the same fate as MTN Nigeria.

Shortly after MTN Nigeria threatened shut down due to the fuel crisis, Airtel mobile service provider also indicated that its users may experience difficulties.

Airtel’s message to subsrcibers

Airtel Nigeria sent out messages via SMS to its users to expect “some strain” on its services.

The message read; “Dear valued customers, this is to inform you that due to the nationwide fuel crisis, our services may experience some strain. We are doing everything possible to manage the situation. Thank you for understanding.”

Although other service providers were silent on the issue,many feared that they were facing the same challenge as others.

Lagos worst hit

Lagos appeared to be worst hit as many workers who could not afford transportation to their places of work either stayed home, paid exorbitant transport fares or trekked long distances to their various places of work.

According to residents that spoke to Vanguard, the hardship had never been this bad.

“Transport fares have risen to the high heavens. We pay through our noses to get to various destinations and the situation at the home-front is beyond imagination. I used to give my children N200 each everyday but since Thursday, it’s N50 per day for each child. I have not earned a kobo since the fuel crisis escalated and I’m completely down,” Nathaniel Solomon  said.

Hair dressers’s plight

Victoria Adeyemi, a hairdresser at Okota expressed dismay over the development. He said: “I don’t know if it has ever been like this before. I live on daily income and I’m the one that sustains my family. My husband has no job and we have three children. Since the fuel scarcity started, I have not earned a dime. I run my business on fuel and I couldn’t buy fuel anymore and we have not seen a blink in form of power supply as a palliative to the problem.”

Another Lagos resident narrated how a woman in his compound stole his 25 litre Jerry-can filled with fuel to sustain her husband that returned to Nigeria from Brazil. Emenike Ofoma said he struggled to buy fuel at N150 per litre last Friday only to watch another tenant in the compound where he lives empty the entire product into her generator in order to please her husband.

“It’s really a crazy thing to do. The woman has been living with her daughter in the same compound with me for over seven years. Just recently, we noticed that a guy had moved in with her and we overheard them quarrelling at night on many occasions. We thought she just got herself a new boyfriend but another neighbour revealed it was her husband who had been based in Brazil that just came home.

“That night, there was power outage as usual and many people stayed outside. I stayed outside till 11pm when I decided to put on my generator. I had fuel inside it and decided to save the N25 litres I just bought but after everyone had gone inside, I noticed the woman pouring fuel inside her generator. I never knew it was my fuel until daybreak when I saw an empty jerrycan. I confronted her and she broke down telling me she didn’t want her husband to leave her again because of the heat and lack of power supply in Nigeria. She told me how the man abandoned her for seven years with their only daughter to travel and live in Mexico and that now that he is back, she is willing to do anything to keep him with her. I looked at her and decided not to make trouble but she returned the money I spent on the fuel. From that Friday till today (Monday), I have not been able to buy fuel. The fuel I bought for N150 per litre is now selling at N500 per litre.”

In all these, transportation cost has skyrocketed across the country and trekking had become vogue. Motorists and those who do their daily business with petrol complain of spending their fortunes to get the product.


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