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Published On: Wed, Feb 26th, 2014

Abuja commuters groan as fuel scarcity lingers

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Fuel hawkers waiting for buyers, yesterday as fuel scarcity hits Abuja.By Stanley Onyekwere

Long queues of motorists resurfaced Monday, in most petrol filling stations in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and other cities in adjoining states of Niger and Nasarawa, respectively, signaling the return of acute scarcity of the product.

Not surprising, it has resulted to hike in transport fares in the nation’s capital, with commuters suffering its many untold attendant backlashes from the lingering fuel scarcity across the Territory.

At the various Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s (NNPC) Mega Stations in the Territory, the queues resulted in a traffic jam and the blocking of the adjoining roads, as motorists inundated the stations where the product is sold at the government approved pump price.

It was discovered that almost all the filling stations in town are not selling fuel and the few that do, sell at a very high cost.

When Peoples Daily went around some bus stops and motor parks in the city Centre and Nyanya-Mararaba axis, it was observed that passengers jostled for the few available buses despite very high fares, making commuters to pay through their noises due to the fact that the few transporters have now capitalised on the development by making brisk business.

Expectedly, the situation has also led to booming market for fuel hawkers known as black marketers, who roam around some filling stations not minding security agents.

With the hawkers, 10 litres is sold between N2, 300 and N2, 500, and may be subject to buyers’ bargaining power.

A fuel attendant, who does want her name in print, claimed ignorant of what might be responsible for the scarcity but expressed hope that the problem would be over soon enough with the increased lifting of the product to major marketers in the territory.

Some commuters, who were seen stranded during the morning rush hour at the FCT Higher Capacity Buses Park, in Nyanya, expressed anger and frustration over the fuel scarcity.

Specifically, some of the commuters said the situation was exasperating and had impacted negatively on social and economic activities in the nation’s capital. They appealed to the government to as a matter of urgency, put an end to the recurring fuel scarcity to ease the hardship of residents in the Territory.

A commuter, Ifeoma Ibeka, recalled that when the fuel scarcity resurfaced at major petrol stations last week, it took an unfavourable dimension with some filling stations dispensing fuel as high as at N120 per litre.

She said, between yesterday (Monday) and today (Tuesday), the situation has continued unabated with motorists spending hours at filling stations, and being unable to go to work.

Another commuter Joseph Kingsley, lamented that commercial drivers are even refusing to convey passengers on the ground that they do not have fuel, so what you see are empty taxis at parks and garages,’’

On his part, a civil servant, Musa Umaru, narrated how he visited a filling station at Jabi, yesterday, to buy fuel as early as 4 a.m. and up till now, 9.30 a.m, (when he was speaking with our reporter) he had been unable to get fuel. He eventually left his car there, and boarded a taxi to work.

Peoples Daily reports that from New Nyanya to AYA junction, transporters who charged N100 prior to the scarcity now charge for between N200 and N250. It was also observed that some private motorists charged the same fares.

Most of the commuters want the federal government to look into the issue urgently before the situation deteriorates, and also come up with severe sanctions against marketers who hoard the product. Meanwhile, investigations revealed that the scarcity is not limited to the FCT alone as reports show it is almost nationwide. For instance, it was reported last week that fuel loading reduced by 95 percent in major depots across Lagos.

“It is sad and embarrassing that we are the world number six producer of this product and yet we are constantly faced with the nightmare of scarcity of the product,’’ Onwe said.

“It amounts to economic sabotage hording or creating artificial scarcity, she said.

Meanwhile, Mr Israel Imo, a driver at Peace Mass Transport Company, told NAN that he bought a litre of fuel at N150 and wondered whether the government was doing anything to reverse the situation.

“If you move around you will discover that almost all filling stations in town are not selling fuel and the few that sell, do so at a very high cost.

“I bought the product at N150 as against the official price of N97 this morning in one of the stations and the meter is not even good.

“Sadly enough, both motorists and commuters are all suffering the crisis,’’ Imo lamented.

The Special Assistant to Gov. Martins Elechi on Petroleum Pricing and Distribution, Mr Chidi Ejem, said the government was on top of the situation.

He said that his office had contacted the respective depots to ensure that those who have the product do not hoard or ration them.

“The scarcity is not peculiar to our state; it is almost a nationwide problem but I can assure you that the government is on top of the situation,’’ Elem said.

Commercial motorcyclists charge between N100 and N120 per drop, depending on the distance, while prices of food items have also been affected.

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