Four days to the April 7 date set by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, to end the biting scarcity of petroleum products in the country, which has resulted in untold hardship for motorists and other road users in the last few weeks, Nigerians have expressed mixed reactions on the possibility of the product becoming readily available.
According to findings by our reporters, the prices of fuel remain between N200 and N300 in several states of the country, with the product still scarce in most capital cities, leaving commuters and other road users stranded and on queues at filling stations for hours.
At the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, fuel scarcity continued to bite harder as motorists said they were patiently awaiting the April 7 promise made by Kachikwu.
Queues at filling stations in the FCT had continued to grow on a daily basis, sometimes spanning one to five kilometers, while motorists who could not stand the long wait had to pay their ways in with amounts ranging between N500 and N1,000, depending on the circumstance.
At the NNPC mega stations in Abuja, fuel sold at N85, while independent marketers sold at N86.50 but motorists had to queue for long hours before they could finally get the product, a situation that has led to the proliferation of black marketers who sell a litre of petrol for between N300 and N400.
However, some commercial motorists expressed hope that the government would live up to its promise of easing fuel scarcity on April 7, noting that apart from the scarcity impacting on their daily incomes, the stress mostly undergone to get fuel has begun to tell on their health, as most of them keep vigil at filling stations and still ply their trade during the day.
A commercial motorist who identified himself as Ayo, told Sunday Tribune that despite the hardship motorists undergo on a daily basis to get fuel, “passengers are not being considerate. They still want to pay what they paid when the fuel situation was stable and this is not favourable to us motorists.
“If I tell you what I face most times to get a full tank, sometimes I sleep in petrol stations and at times if I don’t sleep there, I wake up as early as 4 a.m., because some of these petrol stations sell very early in the morning.
“Now that this man [Kachikwu] has promised us that everything will die down by April 7, we are waiting and praying that it is true, because, my sister, it is not easy,” he concluded
In Ibadan, motorists doubt Kachikwu, pray for April 7 date to be true
Motorists in Ibadan, on Saturday, continued to hope against hope that the April 7 deadline set for fuel products to be available, would be met, noting, however, that it might be a pipe dream, because the product was still scarce four days to the deadline.
According to some motorists who spoke to Sunday Tribune at independent filling stations in Ibadan, the price of fuel at major filling stations was normal but only a few of them were selling the product.
But outside the major independent marketers, private marketers now sell the product for between N180 and N200, motorists said, noting that the queues at the filling stations selling at normal prices were frustrating and energy-sapping.
Mr Ayodele Salami, who was cornered at a major filling station at Oke Ado around 4.15 p.m., where he was the next to be attended to by the petrol attendant before the station decided to stop selling the product due to alleged disorderliness of customers, said he had been on the queue since 8.50 a.m., adding that the filling station attendants, despite claiming that they would not sell fuel to those with jerry cans, have continued to bring jerry cans through the back door.
He said the April 7 date was doubtful, citing the fact that Ibadan, which he said was close to the depots at Mosinmi and Apapa should not be experiencing “this serious hardship on April 2 if the April 7 date is to be feasible,” adding that “if we are still buying fuel for N200 in Ibadan and queuing for seven to eight hours, you journalists should help us ask when the products will start coming in and when they will be offloaded. Now, what will happen to those in far places? I don’t think that date is feasible.”
But another motorist and bystander, who said he had also been at the filling station for hours, interjected, saying “we should give the man the benefit of the doubt.”
‘Motorists in Akure express hope’
The fuel crisis persisted in Akure, Ondo State capital, on Saturday, as most of the filling stations there and its environs did not open for business.
A few of the filling stations that opened sold the product for between N180 and N200 with long queues, while the product is sold for N310 at the black market.
Most of the motorists who spoke with our correspondent lamented the lingering fuel crisis and hoped that the April 7 date would be realistic.
But Funsho Ajo was pessimistic about the April date given by the petroleum minister, saying: “I am very sure the date is not realistic and the statement should be regarded as a political statement. They are just finding ways to save their face after the slip by the minister. The date should not be taken seriously by Nigerians.”
Mrs Mercy Akintomide, while speaking with Sunday Tribune said: “The suffering is just too much. If they want to increase the price of the product, they should just come out and let us know rather than allow us to face this unnecessary hardship.”
Motorists pessimistic in Lagos, Ogun
Commuters and motorists in Lagos and parts of Ogun State have expressed their pessimism at the possibility of the Federal Government to meet the deadline set by the minister to end the fuel crisis.
Many of the motorists also expressed the belief that the deadline by the Federal Government has further worsened the fuel crisis, noting that many marketers have resorted to selling at high prices since they knew that they still had till the date set by the government to revert to normal price.
A commercial motorcyclist told Sunday Tribune that “the price has gone up since the federal government announced when the scarcity will end. Most filling stations now sell at an average of N160 per litre compared to the period before the announcement by the government when we were selling at an average of N150 at the highest.”
A driver who simply identified himself as Soji said “I doubt if the government will fulfill its promise of ending the crisis in the next few days.”
Mixed feelings in Kogi
Kogi State residents, on Saturday, expressed mixed feelings on the April 7 date given by the minister of state for petroleum to end fuel scarcity in the country.
This is just as only few filling stations in major towns of the state sold the product, with findings by Sunday Tribune in Idah, Okene, Kabba, Ankpa and Anyigba revealing that petroleum is still being sold for between N170 and N180 per litre at filling stations.
However, people who could not join long queues to buy the product at such prices bought it for as high as N250 per litre from the black market.
A cross section of people that spoke with Sunday Tribune were pessimistic on the possibility of the scarcity disappearing before next Thursday, arguing that with the present situation at the filling stations where vehicles were still on long queues, the scarcity might persist.
Pessimism reigns supreme in Rivers
While the residents of Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, are still battling with the harsh and biting realities of fuel scarcity and its attendant high cost, most of the people within the metropolis are not really enthusiastic about the possibility of the lingering crisis coming to an end next Thursday, as promised by the Minister of State for Petroleum.
Most of those who spoke with our correspondents, especially motorists, while expressing happiness with such a possibility, were however cautious in their expectations.
According to Etim Mark Ibangha, a motorist, the lingering fuel crisis had made virtually everything to become expensive and such an expectation would be a big relief.
“We are all are expectant since the minister has said the fuel will be available. We have all been patient, although we have really hard tough times in getting the fuel. This has made things to be every expensive in the market.
Ikenna Ama, a commercial cab driver, said, “We have heard so much about the availability of fuel. When it is available today, tomorrow it will not be available. We do not know why they are treating us this way.
Motorists, business owners lament in Ilorin
The lingering fuel scarcity in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital and its environs, has not abated, as motorists and business owners lament over the situation.
Sunday Tribune investigations showed that a litre of petrol is now sold for N180 and N200 at filling stations owned by independent marketers in the state.
It was also gathered that many people spent endless hours at the NNPC filling station located at Asa Dam Road, Ilorin, among others in the state, including BOVAS filing stations, scrambling to buy fuel at the regulated price of N86.50k.
Also, transporters have increased transport fares at intra and inter-state routes by more than 40 per cent, while services at cyber cafes and photocopying centres have been increased as a result of fuel scarcity.
‘Kachikwu must resign, if…’
Responding to questions on how Nigerians should view the April 7 date, a public commentator and politician, Mr. Segun Sowunmi, advised the minister to resign his appointment “if fuel scarcity persists beyond April 7.”
Sowunmi, in an interview with Sunday Tribune in Abeokuta, on Saturday, said the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the key handlers of critical sectors of the economy were not working to solve the problems, saying: “The unfortunate thing about the APC government, especially the key handlers of the critical sectors like power, petroleum and finance, actually imagined that talking to a problem is equivalent to working to solve a problem.
“He [Kachikwu] has said that his best effort will materialise sometimes in April. If he fails to achieve this 72 hours after the said date, I think he should just pack his load and go,” Sowunmi said.
Meanwhile, fuel price has gone as high as N200 in some filling stations in Olomore and Adigbe area of Abeokuta, a development that is said to have aggravated the burdens of commuters who could not afford the hike in transportation fare, thus begging for “free ride”.
A university administrator, Mr. Dapo Oke, who said the current fuel situation “is biting hard on Nigerians,” said: “I think this [the April 7 date] is a departure from the earlier declaration that the scarcity will last till May. It’s probably a rethink after the widespread condemnation that greeted his initial comment. So, the question is how realistic and how feasible is his latest assurance.
culled from www.tribuneonlineng.com