-Airlines halt operations
-Telecoms, banks scale down scale down services
-Salaries of civil servants unpaid
…Nigerians groan as fuel, water, light and basic necessities elude them
The over one-month nationwide fuel scarcity got worse over the weekend (of Friday, May 22 to Monday, May
25, 2015) following the strike by tanker drivers.
From Port-Harcourt, Yenegoa,Kano, Sokoto to Lagos,it has been tales of woes for stranded commuters and motorists who buy fuel at over N300 per litre. The acute fuel scarcity also paralysed socio-economic activities with critical services seriously affected, if not completely shut down.
All of these critical situations left many wondering if President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan who is bowing out on Friday,May 29, is not leaving Nigeria in ruins.
AIRLINES SUSPEND OPERATIONS
As the scarcity of aviation fuel, popularly called JET A1 worsened, virtually all the airlines had to shut down flight operations.
In fact, the two major domestic carriers, Arik Air and Aero Contractors couldn’t operate on Friday, May 22, 2015.
Arik Air’s spokesman, Mr. Adebanji Ola even had to explain the difficult situation they were in. He appealed to their customers to be patient, pending the restoration of normal services.
“We had to cancel our domestic flights because of lack of aviation fuel to run the aircraft. Our international flights are still running. We had a case of an international flight to London travelling to Kano to refuel before heading for its destination”.
Aero Contractors’ Public Affairs Manager, Mr. Simon Tumba also said in a statement that their airline cancelled flights due to aviation fuel challenges.
Similarly, the management of Aero Contractors reacted to its scaling down of operations, following the nationwide fuel crisis.
“Due to the general scarcity of aviation fuel (Jet A1) in the country, the airline (Aero) will not be able to operate over 80 per cent of her domestic flights as scheduled.
“In the last few weeks, the supply of aviation fuel has been very irregular, which has compelled the airline to cancel some flights. We apologise to our esteemed customers for the inconvenience they may have been experiencing due to flight delays and cancellations caused by the scarcity of aviation fuel”.
ENCOMIUM Weekly further gathered that Aero was not even sure of its future flights since it urged travellers to confirm their flights online.
“We urge our customers to always check our website or contact the call centre agent to affirm if their flight will operate”.
Aero, while apologising to customers, said measures are being put in place to ameliorate the situation and to revert to regular flight schedule as soon as the situation improves.
First Nation, Air Peace and Dana Air also had their flights rescheduled or out rightly terminated.
International flights have also been affected with airlines delaying flights to enable them source for aviation fuel outside our shores.
Virgin Atlantic had to inform its passengers of challenges associated with their May 21,2015 Lagos-London Heathrow flight as regards the fuel crisis. In a statement by Customer Relations Duty Executive, Stacey Isherwood, the international airline announced they would be “making a brief stop in Accra (Ghana) to pick up additional fuel before continuing to London Heathrow.
“Because of this extra stop, and change in the flight route, we expect your arrival into Heathrow to be delayed by approximately 2 hours. We will make every effort to keep the delay to an absolute minimal.
“While we are taking up additional fuel, you would be required to remain on board the aircraft. Our crew will do all they can to make your journey and this stop as comfortable as possible for you.
“Please accept our sincere apologies or any inconvenience this situation causes”.
MTN, AIRTEL’S SERVICES THREATENED
Telecoms operators were also not left out. For instance, MTN and Airtel have put customers on alert over likely shut down of services. They stated this in series of messages to customers on Sunday, May 24, 2015.
And unable to render effective call, data and internet services, millions of subscribers suffer seriously.
“Dear Valued Customer, this is to inform you that due to nationwide fuel crisis our services may experience some strain. We are doing everything possible to manage the situation. Thank you for understanding,” Airtel said in a text message to its subscribers on Monday, May 25,2015.
In its own notice to customers, MTN announced that the intractable fuel shortage might force it to shut down some of its base-stations that are powered by diesel-operated generators.
“The management of MTN states that the current diesel scarcity in most parts of the Nigeria is posing threat to quality of services and the ability to optimally operate the network,” the company explained in a statement released on its Twitter handle.
“MTN’s available reserves of diesel are running low and the company must source for significant quantity of diesel in the very near future to prevent a shutdown of services across Nigeria. If diesel supplies are not available within the next 24 hours, the network will be seriously degraded and customers will feel the impact.”
BANKS, BUSINESSES SCALE DOWN OPERATIONS
Banks across country, especially in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, closed at 1 pm on Monday, May 25, following the disruption of economic activities.
Banks like Zenith Bank, GTBank, First Bank and FCMB had to send out notices of early closure to customers.
Due to the on-going fuel shortages across the country, we regret to inform you that we have had to make the difficult decision to close our branches early because of the limited supply of diesel available to maintain normal branch operations.
“All our branches nationwide will be closing daily at 1pm from today, Monday May 25,2015 until further notice.
“We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience that this may cause and we assure you that we are doing everything we can to return to normal banking hours as soon as possible.
“As usual, our 24/7 Multilingual Contact Centre and alternate channels will be available 24/7 to ensure you can continue to bank with ease during this period.
Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) Corporate, Business and Personal Online Banking (Simply visit www.fcmb.com)
Our Mobile Banking Apps FCMBOnline and FCMBMobile
Thank You for Choosing FCMB,” FCMB notified.
In a similar message on Sunday, May 24, the management of GTBank issued notice of early closure of its branches nationwide.
“The current shortage of petroleum products in the country has limited our ability to supply diesel to all our branches, in order to continue normal branch operations.
“Due to this, we unavoidably have to close our branches nationwide at 1 pm, from tomorrow Monday, 25th May 2015.”
GTBank however, on Tuesday, May 26,2015 announced resumption of normal services.
It said in a. fresh notice to customers:
“Dear Customer, We have resumed normal banking hours; 8am 5pm
“We are pleased to inform you that from tomorrow, Tuesday, 26th of May 2015, all our branches nationwide will resume normal banking hours of 8am 5pm for all your banking services, as the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) have announced the suspension of the petroleum product strike.
“Thank you for bearing with us during the 1 day early closure period, and we sincerely apologise for every inconvenience this might have caused you.
“Thank you for banking with us.”
Here is also a notice of early closure issued by Zenith Bank on Monday, May 25, 2015:
“Dear Valued Customer, This is to inform you that all our branches will close for business at 2pm today due to the lingering fuel situation in the country.
“Consequently, we implore you to use our alternative electronic channels (ATM, internet Banking, Mobile Banking, etc.) for your transaction during the period.
“In addition, our 24/7 Interactive Contact Centre, Zenith Direct would be available to attend to your inquiries and other requests.
“National banking activities will resume as soon as the situation improves and we shall advise accordingly.
“Thanks for your continued patronage”.
Similarly, Small and Medium Scale businesses also scaled down operations as the fuel scarcity bite harder. A lot of companies and shops either didn’t open for business or operated minimally.
COMMUTERS, MOTORISTS STRANDED
Commuting also became a serious problem with just few vehicles to convey commuters to their various destinations.