Headlines

March 6, 2022

5TH WK OF PETROL SCARCITY: Anger as cost of running businesses, homes skyrockets

5TH WK OF PETROL SCARCITY: Anger as cost of running businesses, homes skyrockets

…marketers blend bad fuel with new product to bridge supply gap
….Filling stations sell at ‘black market’ price
….Power outages compound woes

By Our Reporters

Nationwide petrol, Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, scarcity, in its fifth week, has worsened the plight of Nigerians as the cost of running businesses and homes has witnessed a sharp increase.

The situation, which left people angry, was made worse by power outages that have so far crippled businesses, especially in the informal sector.

Checks by Sunday Vanguard show that the scarcity and unstable prices of PMS have affected the cost of goods and services in an economy already battling 15.6 percent inflation.

In many states, transporters, who pay an average of N350 for a liter of fuel, have increased their fares while artisans now charge higher than what they charged before the commencement of the crisis.

As government struggles to find a solution, the scarcity has worsened with people becoming more frustrated.

Last month, government had said methanol, a chemical additive, found in imported fuel was higher than specification.

It all started late January and all efforts to keep the bad fuel away and supply new products to meet local demands led to scarcity. 

The authorities had said 2.3 billion litres of additional PMS were being imported to augment the existing one billion litres. 

There is no clarity on the quantity Nigeria consumes daily, but it is estimated at 120.80 million litres daily.

Sunday Vanguard, however, learned that some marketers are already blending the bad fuel with new products to bridge the supply gap.

But the move has not significantly reduced the scarcity, which is already worsening inflation across the country. Virtually every aspect of living is being affected by the ripple effects of scarcity.

ANAMBRA: Sharp practices

Vehicle owners and transporters in Anambra State are lamenting the high cost of fuel, which is now between N200 and N220 per litre.

Filling station operators suddenly increased their pump price from N165 per liter to over N200.

Nigerian National Petroleum Company, NNPC, mega stations, which were the only ones selling at N165 per litre have not been selling for the past two weeks, with some people accusing operators of discharging their products into other stations owned by independent marketers to make more profit.

Following the increase in the pump price, transport fares have soared in the state. For instance, Tricycle, Keke, and shuttle bus operators have increased their fares from N50 per drop to N150 irrespective of the distance, while the cost of charter for Keke has also increased from N1000 to N2000.

Also, transport fare from Awka to Enugu has increased from N1500 to N3000 by bus while Sienna charges higher.

Similarly, many private vehicle owners, particularly civil servants, have parked their cars and are using public transport to reduce cost.

READ ALSO: Fuel scarcity: Lagos govt probes use of petrol as souvenir at party

The increase in the cost of transport has also affected the prices of commodities as the traders complain that the only way for them to survive is to increase prices.

For instance, prices of food items, including vegetables, fruits, tomatoes and yams have almost doubled in the last two weeks.

ENUGU: Salaries on generators

A civil servant in Enugu, Mrs. Dorathy Eze, who condemned the current situation of petrol in Nigeria, said federal government always inflicts untold hardship on its citizens.

She regretted that the increase has caused a rise in transport fares, stressing that it has now become difficult to take care of other family needs.

“I have been a civil servant for several years. Our take home is a peanut, yet we pay through the nose to buy petrol. I am disappointed in this government. My family cannot feed twice daily. I now spend N800 as transportation to my office daily, instead of N300.’’

Also speaking, Mr. Chuks Eze, trader, said petrol is being sold at N220 per litre in Enugu.

He, however, regretted that the epileptic nature of power supply in Nigeria has made low income earners spend all they have on petrol to fuel their generators.

“The adulterated PMS is harshly affecting Nigerians negatively. And to make matters worse, power supply has continued to be epileptic, thereby forcing Nigerians, especially those on monthly pay to spend their salary to purchase petrol to fuel their generators.’’

TARABA: Black marketers, hike in fares

Just like other states, Taraba residents are also suffering from the low supply of PMS.

The pump price for PMS at filling stations is still N167.

But most people, however, opted for the black market. The price of five litres is now N1200.

Some residents who own cars have opted for public transport to move about. The public transport fare has also experienced slight changes.

A civil servant who simply identified himself as Marcus, said “I just bought two kegs for N2400. This is very annoying.’’

BAUCHI: Extortion at fuel stations

Mustapha Yahaya, a civil servant, narrated how he bribed a fuel station attendant to bypass the queue and gain access to buy petrol in one of the fuelling stations in Bauchi metropolis.

“I bought at the rate of N165 per litre along Dass Road, but I paid N500 before I was allowed to enter the fuelling station. I don’t feel guilty that I bribed my way in because there was no other way. I couldn’t buy from black market. No one trusts the quality of petrol they sell.’’

Banjifelix Adetula, a commercial driver, lamented: “There is a fuel station where I bought petrol at N250 per litre and they still collected bribe from people.’’

Muhammad Abdulkareem, an engineer with a construction company, said: “I didn’t buy fuel because I kept seeing “No fuel” instead of “Yes Fuel.”. I think what needs to be done is some level of monitoring by relevant government agencies to ensure compliance with the official pump price. It will stop the diversion of products to places other than their intended designations.”

OGUN: Over 50 % price increase

A check by our Correspondent, who monitored the situation, showed that a few filling stations were dispensing the commodity at N200 per litre. There were long queues at some of the stations selling fuel.  The situation is the same in other cities across the state where people struggled to buy PMS.

A businessman, Mr. Saheed Adekunle, who spoke to Sunday Vanguard said fuel scarcity has affected the prices of everything in town.

According to him, the scarcity has affected transport fare by 100%. In Abeokuta for example, cabs now charge N100 per drop instead of N50. Commercial motorcycle operators charge a minimum of N150 per drop instead of N100 before now.

On her part, a trader, Mrs. Kemisola Abdullahi, said the situation has affected the prices of commodities. A bag of sachet, pure, water now sells for N250 as against N150 per bag. Also, prices of foodstuff have skyrocketed.

IMO: Price hike

In Owerri, residents said the petrol crisis has led to an increase in transport fares. Chidi Amadi, who resides along Egbu Road, said they now pay between N150 and N300 against N100.

While those travelling along Owerri-Onitsha Road were paying N100 and N150 before the advent of the scarcity, they now spend between N350 and N500 on transportation. Those plying to the Mbaise axis used to pay N300, but they are now being charged between N500 and N1500. Commuters plying the Owerri-Port Harcourt route now spend N250 against N100. Petrol stations sell N250 a litre while black market charges N450 per litre.

ADAMAWA: Chad and Cameroun

Fuel stations now operate twice weekly, thereby creating artificial scarcity. Some sell their products for only three hours, between 7am

to 10am. Adamawa is known for the hoarding of petroleum products owing to its proximity to Chad and Cameroon.

NNPC Mega Station along Bank Road, Yola, operates more often than others.

ABIA: Cost of living

Transporters in Umuahia have hiked transport fare following an increase in the cost of petrol, which now sells between N190 and N200 at different petrol stations.

The development has affected the prices of virtually other items which have now increased in the market.

Tricycle operators who ply the Umuahia-Umudike route now charge between N200 and N250 per passenger as against N100 previously charged.

Similarly, Umuahia to Isuikwuato is now between N500 and N600 per passenger as against N400 previously charged.

A staff of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, MOUAU, who spoke with Vanguard on the condition of anonymity, said she spends at least N1000 on transport daily.

Another resident, Mr. Chimdi Ejirika, who owns a business Centre in Umuahia, said the hike in petrol pump price has drastically reduced his profit.

“We were charging N15 for photocopying before the increase in fuel pump price, but we now charge N20. Our problem is that customers are not ready to listen to us, making us revert to former rate.’’

BAYELSA: Worst in rural areas

Petrol users are forced to cough out between N163 and N230 to purchase the product. While major marketers dispensed same at the official rate other retail outlets are selling at N210 and N230. In rural areas, it is sold between N350 and N400.

Lamenting the turn of events, a commercial tricycle operator, Mr. Ukot Ode, said: “The current fuel situation is affecting us in the transportation business. We were charging N50 per drop when fuel price was N163. With the scarcity, we are now buying between N220 and N300 per litre at filling stations. We pay N400 at the black market. We have no option but to increase the fare by 50 percent but passengers are not complying.’’

Meanwhile, Bayelsa State government has set up a committee to monitor the fuel situation and reportedly pegged the official price of PMS at N220 per litre.

Delta: Extortion by fuel attendants

The situation in Delta, especially Asaba, the state capital, is serious with long queues at a few filling stations selling the product.

Apart from NNPC Mega Station that was selling at the official rate, other stations were selling at N185, N200, N210, and N220 per litre. This is besides the extortion of extra N100.00 by pump attendants.

An Ughelli based businessman, Mr. Richard Benin, said: “l had to buy N6000 worth of fuel at N200 per litre to power my generator and to make things worse, we have been having power outage for some weeks now.’’

Akwa Ibom: Price of food items

Residents of Uyo and its environs are buying petrol at the rate of N200 per litre.

A public servant in Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area, who simply identified himself as Mr. Umoh, said the price has increased to N200,00 per litre, adding that it has affected the cost of transportation.

According to Umoh, both commercial car drivers and Okada fares have doubled.

“The increase in fuel pump price has led to an increase in transport fare. A journey of N50 for Okada is now N150,’’ he said.

Further findings showed that it also affected the cost of food items. For instance, a tuber of yam which sold at N700 in January is now N800.

The price of food items like garri and palm oil has started witnessing an increase.

CROSS RIVER: Local transport rises

Black market operators are having a filled day following the scarcity of the product in major parts of the metropolis except for some areas like 8 Miles, Atimbo and some places in Calabar South LGA.

A litre of fuel at mega stations in Calabar currently stands at N180 while smaller stations are selling between N200 to N220.

The black marketers along Marian are selling at N300 per litre. Checks showed that in Atimbo, a litre is sold at N300 while 2 litres goes for N500 while 5 litres cost N1000.

The high cost of the product has led to an increase in transport fares. Prices of food items were not spared.

Before now, the cost of transportation from Calabar to Ogoja was N3, 000 by bus and N3, 500 by taxi, but it has increased to N4000 and N5000 respectively.

The worst affected are parents who take their children to school daily. The usual N50 has gone up to N100.

RIVERS: Hoarding of products

Motorists were forced to increase the price of local transportation. A commercial driver, who pleaded anonymity, said: “We had to increase the price of transportation. Some areas added N50 and N100. We are not the cause. Some fuel stations are even hoarding the product. Anywhere you see a queue, it means the price is less than N200 or the meter is accurate.”

Edo: Unofficial price

In Benin City, only NNPC Mega Station by Sapele Road, close to the state Police State Command, Conoil at Akpakpava, popularly called Madam 200 and Buvel along Murtala Muhammed Way sell at the official price.

Other stations sell above the official pump price, some as much as N250 per litre in some parts of Edo North Senatorial District.

In Benin, most of the stations sell between N195 and N220 per litre while black market at popular Iyaro sells for N300 per litre or more.

LAGOS: Long queues, unofficial price

In Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, fuel scarcity is taking its toll on the populace.

Long queues are visible in some filling stations while majority are closed. Most outlets sell above the N65 official rate.

The prices range between N180 and N200. At the black market, a litre sells at N300. Five litres at the black marker is N1500 while two go for N700. The situation has resulted in a slight increase in the cost of transportation in the city.

NASARAWA: Odd hours

In Lafia, the price of fuel is between N250 and 300 per litre. The only NNPC Mega Station in Lafia has remained shut since the crisis began, but it dispenses to some persons at odd hours.

Abubakar Isa, a tricycle owner who spoke with the Sunday Vanguard lamented that even the NNPC Mega Station has adjusted its pump.

The cost of transportation within the state has increased due to the scarcity.

“We used to pay between N1000 and N1,200 from Lafia to Mararaba and Karu but it is now N1,700 or N2,000,’’ a resident, Mrs. Rebecca, lamented.

BENUE:

In Makurdi, many motorists spend several hours in queues at a few filling stations. Those who narrated their ordeal in the wake of the scarcity painted a picture of a people living a life of frustration. Some independent marketers sell the product at N200 per litre.

PLATEAU: ‘I bought water at black market’

Residents of Jos narrated the pains they go through.

A transporter, Ibrahim Ponfa, who plies Jos to Langtang daily, said: “I have been buying petrol as high as N230 but the painful aspect is that I bought water from the black market.

“As we speak, the tank of my vehicle has been dropped and cleaned but the engine still refuses to start. My means of livelihood has been destroyed. Some had to increase their transport fare from N1,500 to N2,000.”

A tricycle rider, Joseph Damap said, “It is not about the price, it is where to buy the product.’’

A resident at a new settlement at Kwang, Jos South Local Government Area, Rebecca Pwakim, who processes grains for household use, lamented: “We don’t have electricity in our area. I rely on petrol to run the grinding machines and power the generator in my house. To stay in business, I have to increase the price of my services.’’

Others

In Katsina, Kano, Kaduna, Kebbi, Borno and Yobo states, Sunday Vanguard found a similar story of anger and frustration. People pay higher for the product, leading to untold hardship.