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Nigeria News: Fuel scarcity shots up prices

Guardian newspaper reports that as the lingering fuel scarcity enters its fourth week, prices of goods and services are on the increase as companies pass on cost to consumers

OVER the weekend, Lara Akinfewa, a popular hairdresser in Isolo found herself in an uncomfortable situation.

She was torn between increasing the fee she charged her customers and going ahead with the old rates and running at a loss.

She had charged N300 for retouching and setting her customers’ hair using her potable generating set.

That was before the fuel scarcity, that is now in its fourth week, even started.

Now that amount is no longer fair to her as she buys a litre of petrol at N140 at the black market.

None of the filling stations in Isolo had sold fuel in the past four days.

“I cannot charge the old rate and I do not want to drive my customers away’, she explained to The Guardian.

The scarcity is not limited to Isolo.

A system’s analyst living near Bank Bus Stop, Ijegun, in the Igando-Ikotun Local Council Development Area of Lagos State, Bode Olusanya, told The Guardian yesterday, he tried to count the fuel service stations on his way to work in Isolo.

Of the 25 stations he counted on the 10 to 12 kilometre journey, none had fuel.

“All of them had their gates shut to the few motorists that had been waiting, hoping to buy fuel.

The fuel attendants sat around idle, ignoring the motorists as well as those who came to buy with plastic containers.

On Tuesday afternoon, a few, including Texaco and AP stations on the route, sold to customers.

Yesterday, their gates were shut.”

The scene, Olusanya described was similar to what obtained on many other routes in the Lagos metropolis, incuding Airport Road towards Mile Two and Apapa, Orile-Badagry Expressway, Agege Motor Road to Abule Egba as well as Oshodi- Mile 12-Ikorodu Highway where evidence abounds that there is not much respite yet to the fuel scarcity that began a few weeks ago.

Contrary to the assurances by government officials, many filling stations do not have the required supply of petroleum products.

Crowds besiege the different stations at the slightest indication true or unfounded that supplies of petrol, especially have arrived, a situation that has led to angry scenes as frustrated consumers find themselves being turned away with empty tanks and containers.

“But they continue to come” an attendant at Nation Wide Filling Station said yesterday.

“We pity them because some of them think we are hoarding fuel.

They come, wait for hours and go home. Some who are lucky may be around when a consignment of a tanker comes, which we sell quickly to our customers.

As soon as that supply is exhausted, we shut down and lock the gtes and that may be when others come only to be told we had sold fuel a few minutes before. It is not our fault. We do not get enough as before,” he said.

Thus, the picture of people hanging around outside the shut gates of filling stations has become common across Lagos metropolis.

There is also the picture of fuel hawkers, young men and women along Airport Road, Badagry Expressway, Ejigbo-Isolo Road as well as Lagos -Abeokuta Expressway selling the scarce commodity for as high as N250 per litre.

Those who cannot afford the black market price now keep vigil just to obtain fuel.

The situation has also worsened the traffic situation along many routes as queues of vehicles stretch from the filling stations on to the expressways.

This has affected vehicular movement from Ojota to Maryland, Anthony, Obanikoro, Palmgrove, Onipani, Fadeyi along Ikorodu Road where there has been chaotic traffic because of the large number of filling stations along the of hours.

It is the same story on other routes such Lagos-Abeokuta, Isolo-Ikotun Road, Western Avenue among others.

An attendant at one of the AP Stations on Apapa -Oshodi Expressway told The Guardian they had stopped selling to people in plastic containers.

“We stopped selling to customers with cans because it was discovered many of them resold at the black market.

There have been fisticuffs between those who wanted to put in their tanks and those who wanted to buy in cans, so we decided to sell only to car owners. It was a decision also to ensure that only vehicle owners in genuine need come to the station.”

Now the scarcity of the product has forced commercial motorists to increase transport fare, as there is nobody to check their excesses. Commuters of public transport pay through their noses.

A trip from Maryland to Oshodi, which was formerly N70, now cost between N100 and N150. From Oshodi to Mile Two now goes for between N100 and N120 and even more at peak hours as against the normal N70 or N80.

A bus ride to Oshodi from Ikotun now costs N150 up from N120 while Ijegun to Ikotun is N30 from N20.

Many private car owners have been forced to their leave their vehicles and take public transport to work and back while many homes have suspended the use of generating sets on account of the scarcity and high cost.

Prices of foodstuffs have also gone up as a paint-container measure of garri has gone up to N600 from N500 last two weeks.

Five medium-size tubers of yam that was sold at N1,000 last week now cost N1,250.

A resident, Babajide Oloye, said: “Government should wade into this crisis because it is a serious matter.

When there is power outage, generating sets come to the rescue provided you have fuel. Now, we cannot even see fuel again to buy. The other day, at a filling station, the attendants refused to sell to people with jerry cans. I wonder how I will be carrying my generating set to the filling stations to buy fuel,” he added.

He lamented how Nigeria, a nation highly endowed by God with oil, should experience fuel scarcity.

Lagosians and indeed, Nigerians may well get prepared for a much-prolonged scarcity than they would have liked.

Secretary of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, Lagos Zone, Mr. Nojeem Korodo said on Tuesday that truck loading at the key deposits in Lagos was still slow, putting it at less than 50 per cent of the normal situation.

He said that the satellite depot at Ejigbo, which used to load 180 trucks per day, could only load about 50 with 60 percent of the trucks going to Abuja and its environs.

“The crisis may take a longer period to ease off because of the time involved in importing products and because of the huge supply gap that had been created.”