Fuel scarcity in Nigeria has continued to bite harder as air passengers are stranded at the Lagos and Abuja international airports while motorists and users of the premium motor spirit across the country have had to contend with long queues at the few stations that occasionally sell the product.
According to numerous reports, residents are also experiencing blackouts because they cannot buy petrol to run generators providing electricity to their homes due to the worsening public electricity supply across the country.
Vanguard reports that hundreds of air passengers may be stranded at the various airports across the country as Nigeria's major airline, Arik Air, plans to suspend flight operations due to the lingering aviation fuel scarcity in the country. Arik Air controls about sixty percent of the Nigerian aviation market. The managing director of Arik Air, Chris Ndulue, made this disclosure yesterday at the airline corporate headquarters while addressing aviation reporters.
He said the airline has been operating only 20% of its daily flights schedule due to scarcity of aviation fuel, particularly in Lagos, its major hub. The airline operates about 120 flights on its domestic routes daily.
Furthermore, the situation has occasioned black marketing and illegal dealing in petroleum products. Many importers and petrol marketers have refused to supply fuel stations because the government of President Goodluck Jonathan owes them more than $1 billion in subsidy money.
Premium Times reports that the Department of Petroleum Resources has attributed the fuel queues in Abuja and its environs to a slight drop in the lifting of oil by marketers from Suleja Depot.
A senior official of DPR, who asked for anonymity, said on Tuesday in Abuja that the general elections also contributed to the prevailing queues in the city.
He said: “During the election on Saturday and Sunday, there was no lifting of fuel at the depot and that will naturally affect its distribution in Abuja and its environs.This is a factor for the little queue you see around within the city; however, there is hope that the situation will improve as from Tuesday. The reason is that it is expected that lifting of fuel would have resumed on Monday.”
The source also attributed the queue to panic buying. He said the quantity of fuel available was still enough to serve motorists in the FCT. Ade Abolurin, the commandant general of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, said that in line with the Corps’ mandate in curtailing the activities of illegal dealers of petroleum products, they have directed the Anti-Vandal Squad of the Corps to clamp down on illegal marketers of petroleum products, product diversion, unnecessary hikes in pump prices and black marketers.
On Saturday in Abuja Abolurin stated that the persistent scarcity of the petrol gives room for the citizens to cast aspersions on the government as if it is not sensitive to the plight of the common man.
He said that in the interests of democracy, all those involved in hoarding petrol, thereby causing artificial scarcity in order to sell at exorbitant prices, should be arrested and prosecuted accordingly.
In a statement he urged that the clampdown would bring about sanity and make petrol available at legal sales venues instead of selling to those who will hoard the product to sell at inflated prices to desperate buyers.
As a consequence of the shortage, last weekend the fuel price rose to an all time high of N300 per litre on the black market and N200 in the few fuel stations that had the product.
As a result, transport fares and prices of essential goods went up astronomically beyond the reach of the average Nigerian worker, who incidentally marked workers’ day last Friday.
For example, the transport fare from Ojodu/ Berger to Mowe went up from N100 to between N250 and N300. It was also the same in various parts of the metropolis.
Commercial motorcyclists also raised their fares to between N200 and N400 for routes where they normally collect between N100 and N150.