The lingering fuel scarcity, which returned at the weekend, has taken a toll on small businesses, commuters and households as average pump price has gone up to ₦200 per litre, if available, at most areas in Lagos State.
After what seemed like a relief after the scarcity in December, the queues were back in the early hours of Saturday and steadily increased during the weekend across the state as consumers continued to lament.
Though the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) announced earlier Monday that it had released 250 trucks of petrol to Lagos metropolis for effective dispensing at filling stations to forestall any scarcity, the long queues are yet to disappear as motorists are still stuck at filling stations across the state.
Small businesses which rely on petrol to power their machines and equipment are hard hit with most operators losing man-hours at the filling station, just as transporters have barely done business.
Commuters are equally complaining about the sudden increase in transport fares, saying the brunt of the scarcity is on them as costs are passed on to them.
Dami Oyewole who owns a dry cleaning business in Ikotun says “business is basically stagnant because I’m caught between two devils, epileptic electricity supply, and fuel scarcity. I cannot afford to buy a 10- litre fuel for ₦2,000, it is eating into my small profit.”
Households are not left out as they stand with kegs for hours at filling stations.
“My phone has been dead for hours and I’m losing hope of getting fuel today,” said Daniel Festus, a worker.
However, black market operators are into brisk business as they jerk a liter of petrol to as high as ₦250 in certain areas.
While there seems to be no immediate solution to the crisis, which began in December last year, the NNPC has assured Nigerians of a regular supply of the commodity.
Ndu Ughamadu, the NNPC’s Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, specifically said the reason for the shortage was a slight change in the distribution network in Lagos as the state was currently being supplied by members of the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN).
“At the weekend there was a hitch in discharging of petrol by ships which have been ratified,” he noted, adding that the Port Harcourt refinery is slightly down for now due to the power problem, pending when the problem will be rectified.
Some filling stations in Yaba, Ikeja, Idimu, Isolo, and Island areas of Lagos, and Akute in Ogun State were selling at between N160 and N180 per litre, while others only sold to motorcycle riders and other petrol seekers with jerry cans, who were charged at least N200 extra by petrol attendants.