MOTORISTS and workers in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) are still groaning under the impact of unceasing fuel scarcity and the consequent long queues of vehicles at filling stations.
Owing to the scarcity, commercial vehicle operators have increased their fares by, at least, 50 per cent.
The Independent Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) has been at daggers drawn with the Federal government over payment of bridging claims and other logistic concerns they claimed they had been incurring on procuring and distributing premium motor spirit (PMS), popularly known as petrol, and following over 200 per cent rise in the price of diesel.
The Federal government is paying over N4 trillion in subsidy claims and enforcing a price controlled regime, but marketers had raised their concerns on the Federal government’s pegging of petrol price at N165 per litre.
The marketers maintained that doing business on the government-controlled price was no longer feasible and feared it would push them out of business.
“The price of diesel has gone up more than 200 per cent since February. Marketers are struggling to keep up with the pace of the business; many of them are even shutting down their retail outlets,” a former president of the Major Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Adetunji Oyebanji, told THE ICIR.
Oyebanji said the NNPC, which has been the sole importer of PMS with a few licensed major marketers, should assist other marketers with foreign exchange to aid import and also have more retail outlets.
A multiplier effect of the fuel scarcity situation is that commercial vehicle operators are passing on whatever stress and additional cost they are experiencing getting the fuel to commuters in terms of fare hike.
Some motorists, who could not easily get access to the few filling stations dispensing fuel, had to resort to black market dealers littered across various strategic spots in the FCT.
Musiliu Idoko, a cab driver, spoke on how the crisis was worsening the transport situation in the FCT.
“Many of my customers couldn’t get my services again because it’s even difficult to get the fuel. When you get from the black marketers, the price is high and could even damage your vehicle,” Idoko said.
Another motorist, Ekene Obike, told our correspondent that he had considered parking his commercial vehicle at home due to difficulties in getting the fuel.
Obike said, “The fuel scarcity is biting us harder. If we get the fuel from the black marketers at a much higher price and we are compelled to increase our fares, our customers complain of increase in transportation.”
A civil servant, Margaret Okoromadu, told THE ICIR that many workers who had to go to work in public vehicles were experiencimg difficulties.
“Many of us who don’t follow the Ministry vehicles have difficulties paying for transport. Our salaries haven’t increased, yet the transport cost has increased. The government should help us out,” Okoromadu said.
Another cab driver, Hamidu Musiliu, told THE ICIR that he had to grease the palms of security operatives at filling stations to allow him access into filling stations.
Musiliu said, “I normally pay the security personnel at the filling station to allow me access. I give them N1,500 to allow me enter. I can’t stay in the long queues for seven hours.”
Survey checks this morning by THE ICIR showed that many retail outlets in the FCT were under lock and key.
The checks observed that MRS mega filling station and AA Rano along the Kubwa express were selling fuel.
However, Gegu, NIPCO, Conoil Rainoil, Oando and Danoil filling stations on the same Kubwa express were not selling.
The Chief Engineer of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), Farouk Ahmed, in response to the development, hailed independent marketers as a critical stakeholder in Nigeria’s energy sector and assured of the regulator’s support in the distribution of petroleum products.
Ahmed assured of the Federal government’s support in closing the gap in the distribution value-chain by working closely with independent marketers.