By Francis Igata
ENUGU—Residents and motorists in Enugu State are wearing long faces occasioned by the acute scarcity of petrol which has drastically affected prices of staple food items sold across markets in the state.
It will be recalled that the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, had a fortnight ago, in a bid to check the activities of independent petroleum marketers who engage in hoarding, meter tampering, product adulteration and diversion, shut down 86 filling stations spread across the South-East geopolitical zone.
At filling stations located on Ogui Road, New Haven axis of Enugu metropolis, motorists purchased petrol at suffocating prices of N130 per litre against the government approved price of N87 per litre.
Major filling stations operated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, located on Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway witnessed long queues, as motorists slept at the filling station in a desperate bid to buy at the N87.
A visit at Ogbete Main Market, the biggest market in Enugu State, showed that prices of staple food items had skyrocketed even though the usual up-scaled patronage within the festive season was not witnessed.
A paint of crayfish, which sold for N1,300 now sells for N2,300, an almost 100 per cent increase. Carton of dry fish, which sold for N55,000 now sells for N68,000, while a bag of 50kg rice which sold for 10,000 now sells for N16,000.
Mr. Amaechi Ukwuani, a motorist, regretted that the fuel scarcity had defied all known solutions adopted by the Federal Government to mitigate its effect.”
“Since the advent of the present All Progressives Congress, APC, led administration at the centre, this situation has gone on unabated. We are buffeted with promises that the situation will ease but rather, it has worsened till the very week of Christmas. The last time we experienced this type of acute fuel shortage was during the military era.
“The prevailing situation has increased transport fares, food items, cost of services among others. The usual frenzy that accompany Christmas has vanished suddenly. Is this what we will experience for four years?
“To make matters worse, the roads in the South-East now death- traps are not getting any attention from the Federal Government. This scarcity is at the very heart of our day-to-day activities. From all indications, it appears the government is overwhelmed by the challenge. This is Christmas may well be marked as the bleakest one.”