© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Abuja Residents Groan As Fuel Scarcity Bites Harder
There seems to be no end in sight to the fuel scarcity that has hit Abuja, the Nigerian capital, and many other cities, as many people have now resorted to the purchase of petrol from black market operators to meet their daily needs.
A visit to most filling stations across Abuja showed that they were under lock with petrol attendants milling around the empty premises. The few that do sell the product have to contend with long queues of desperate motorists struggling to gain access to their premises in order to buy fuel..
However, for black market operators, it is a time to smile to the banks. In virtually all areas of the city, particularly in front of petrol stations that claim not to have fuel, young men with kegs of petrol openly displayed call out to motorists to buy their products.
The black market price of petrol ranges from N2,500 to N3,000 for a 10 litre container.
At the Total filling station close to the Police Headquarters in Area 11 Abuja, a long line of cars can be seen waiting to buy petrol. And just beside the queue, black marketers operate freely selling the product to those who are unwilling to wait.
A black market operator, Audu, said they have to pay extra to the fuel attendants in order to get the product which they then sell to motorists at higher prices. He said that at times they have owners of cars who gain access to the petrol stations, fill up their tanks and then sell the entire content at a profit to black marketers waiting patiently outside the premises of such petrol stations.
Another marketer claimed that security operatives are ‘settled’ periodically so that they can operate unmolested outside the filling stations.
Along the Area 1 highway, many of the young men can equally be found selling to motorists who are unwilling to join the long line of cars waiting to buy from the major Conoil distributor in area one.
A motorist, Japheth Udoh, said that he leaves his home early at the outskirts so he would not be caught in the massive holdup that takes place every morning along the Nyanyan expressway. He said he is able to conserve the little fuel he is able to secure every day. He believes the nonchalance of the present government to the crisis is deliberate.
“Now that the present government is on its way out, I don’t think that they are concerned about the plight of the people anymore. Or how can one explain this fuel crisis. It’s as if there is no government in place,’ he lamented.
Hajia Abubakar, a senior police officer said the issue is becoming more worrisome as domestic power needs which are often taken care of by fuel are being affected by the scarcity.
She said that with epileptic power supply still a major concern for many, the added fuel crisis is giving many households cause for concern.
Many motorists also allege that some of the filling stations selling fuel have adjusted their pumps to cheat unsuspecting motorists. Although the pricing on the pumps still read the normal N87 dictated by the government, it is alleged that many have tampered with the pumps in order to lower the quantity dispensed to motorists.
‘My gauge is very good so I usually know when the fuel sold to me is not commensurate to the money paid. In the last few days, I have discovered that whenever I buy fuel from a particular filling station in my area, the quantity has reduced,’ an irritated motorist complained.
It was gathered that the practice is slowly gaining foothold in many places in the outskirts of the capital city, especially parts of Nassarawa. Despite these accusations, many say that they are still content with buying from the indicted filling stations rather than from the black marketers.
However, the Daily Trust newspaper has reported that the reason for the scarcity may be connected with the reduction in supply of the product to Abuja. According to the newspaper, from April 1, 4.4 million litres were supplied to the city which dropped to 3.6 million litres the next day and further down to 2.8million litres on April 3. Fuel supplied to the city as at April 6 was 4.6 litres.
The estimated fuel consumption for Abuja is put at about 8 million per day.
The group general manager, public affairs of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Ohi Alegbe, declined comments when contacted to find out the reasons behind the scarcity.
The current fuel scarcity experienced in the Federal Capital Territory started over a month ago.