– Queues have disappeared, but motorists, others count losses as pump attendants, fuel stations gain
– FG, petroleum marketers differ on cause of scarcity
It was a week of scuffles, fights, extortions and long queues as Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), or fuel scarcity raised its ugly head again. But Nigerians, in their usual manner, pulled through.
From the FCT, Abuja to Akwa Ibom, Lagos, Plateau, Bayelsa, Delta, Kaduna, Ekiti, Ondo, Ogun, and Oyo, filling stations were jam-packed with commuters and motorists hustling to buy petrol. The queues grew longer with pump attendants and filling station managers taking advantage by increasing pump price to as high as N150; as against the official N87.
But over the weekend, the queues shrank and have since disappeared. Nigerians are, however, left with the sour taste of the losses they suffered while the scarcity raged on.
ENCOMIUM Weekly spoke with motorists and commuters and they reflected on what they lost which include time, manpower, resources…
Mr Hakeem, commercial bus driver; Ogba, Lagos, he spoke in pidgin…
I buy N100 on Wednesday for Pen Cinema area. Na fight we fight to make sure we buy the fuel. The person wey dey sell fuel dey collect money from people wey no dey queue.
John; Berger, Lagos
I bought for N100 per litre. I was expecting transport fare to increase, but it did not. The bus people did not charge more than before. Me, I lost hours of my time. Staying on long queues and dragging with people. The part that vexed me one day was when the guy selling the fuel was selling to people that were not on the queue. He’ll collect like N200 and sell to them.
Mr. Victor, car owner; Oke-Ira, Lagos
I only bought fuel once last week. When I saw the queue the second time, I just turned back. I only put on my generator when it was important to avoid going to join the long lines of people to buy fuel. I had to stop using my car and started using public bus, only my wife used the car.
She also had to park it and use public bus after some time. Thank God all that has passed now. But I don’t understand how at the stage we still struggle to get basic things. It is very sad.
Mr. Samson; Oke Ira, Lagos
I have not put on my generator since last week. We are in darkness whenever there is no light, unlike before. What we do is go to bed with the curtains raised. If not, the heat will be too much. Power distributors tried, they gave us light for some nights. Yes, of course I will go back to what I normally do.
Mrs. Oboh, shop owner; Oke-Ira, Lagos
I need the generator to keep the drinks cold. Before, I put it on once the day is dark around seven. It will be on till I close around nine, 10. But since fuel scarcity became serious, I do not put it on like before. I buy ice block to keep the drinks cold. Some customers complain that my drinks are not as cold as before, I tell them it’s the fuel wahala that is the cause.
Shola, barber; Oke-Ira, Lagos
The filling station across the road here did not sell last week, but every time they open, people would rush to buy fuel. I had to be going to the Oando (at Avis bus stop, Ogba) to buy. What I do not like is the fighting, but because I cannot do business without light and you can’t trust power supply, I had to endure for business sake.
FG, oil marketers differ on cause of scarcity
After queues surfaced on Thursday, February 26, 2015, petroleum marketers announced that the government’s failure to clear subsidy backlog, as well as the recent devaluation of the naira and its consequent high exchange rate, was behind the crisis.
Debunking the oil marketers’ assertion, Finance Minister and Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said the scarcity was due to “Disruption of pipelines and logistic issues”.
Speaking at a news briefing on Tuesday, March 3, 2015, in Abuja, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala denied any link between the scarcity and failure by the government to pay oil marketers, a claim made by the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).
Affirming her position, she added: “As you know, we paid the marketers a total of N320.8 billion from the Excess Crude account in two instalments in December last year. This underscores the fact that we are taking payment of marketers very seriously indeed. We’ve been in constant touch and talking with the marketers and a week ago we reached an agreement with them on their core concerns which we have addressed”.