Business

Motorists sleep at filling stations as petrol scarcity bites harder

•Abuja gets priority loading at depots

…Commuters groan as fares soar

 

By Adewale Sanyaolu and Adanna Nnamani, Abuja

Motorists in Lagos are currently contending with acute shortage of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), popularly called petrol over what industry observers described as massive drop in import level.

Their counterparts in Abuja and many parts of the north are currently agonising as they now sleep at filling stations to get the vital product.

In a filling station in the Igando area of Lagos, motorists were allegedly forced to buy meatpie before buying petrol. The development made customers restive as they took on the management.

The concomitant effect of the scarcity is that businesses are choked as movement of goods becomes hampered.

In Lagos, as early as 5am on Sunday, motorists thronged various filling stations, sacrificing church service time to scout for petrol.

Investigations by Daily Sun across filling stations located in Abule Egba, Ogba, Ikeja, Alausa, Alapere, Gbagada, Lekki and Victoria showed that there was drop in supply level as more than 60 per cent of the filling stations surveyed were out of supply while those dispensing had long queues of vehicle.

At the NNPC retail outlet at Alapere inward old toll gate, the filling station had long queues of vehicles stretching several meters. The queues which were almost stretching back to Ogudu compounded the traffic situation as those returning from worship centers got trapped.

The same scenario played out at the TotalEnergies filling stations at Alapere and Mobolaji Bank Anthony way in Ikeja.

At Ogba, the Conoil and NNPC filling stations on College Road were out of service, leaving the Mobil retail outlet to serve the long queues of motorists.

At Alausa, the situation was not different as the NNPC retail outlet on Mobolaji Johnson Avenue had long queues of vehicle in line almost stretching back to the Ndubusi Kanu park.The Total Energies station was however out of stock.

On Lagos Island, the situation appears worse as filling stations in Ikoyi and Lekki were all shut to the motoring public save for the AP filling station on Admiralty Way in Lekki that was dispensing with very long stretch of vehicles in line.

A motorist at the NNPC retail outlet in Alausa who identified himself as Mr.Nurudeen Alebiosu, said he has been in the queue for the over 2 hours and will remain there till he gets fuel because what he has in his vehicle cannot take him to the office tomorrow.

Another consumer, Mrs. Adaeze Orji,said the transformer in her community packed up last Thursday and all efforts to get it fixed has proved abortive.

She said all she needs is just 20 litres to power her generator so that she could preserve the food in her refrigerator before they go bad.

At the Apapa depot, some marketers who spoke to Daily Sun disclosed that there has been a drastic drop in the level of imports.

They lamented that priority attention was only for trucks loading products to Abuja at the detriment of other locations, especially Lagos and neighboring states

They said there was a strict instruction from higher authorities that only trucks heading to Abuja should be loaded.

Another marketer at the Apapa depot who simply identified himself as Alhaji kabiru said the shortage in supply may worsen in Lagos by Tuesday because of the priority attention given to trucks heading to Abuja.

“A particular depot in Apapa here that received 5,000 metric tons (200 trucks) of petrol on Thursday has loaded over 100 trucks for Abuja but our trucks that are meant to service Lagos outlets have been on the queue since Friday without consideration for us”.

In Abuja, black marketers are smiling to the bank as they pepper motorists with scathing petrol prices.

Mohammed Wudil, a taxi driver plying the Lugbe-Abuja Airport corridor has this to say over the scathing issue: “Never in my wildest imagination did I think that I’ll sleep in the filling to get petrol after the government had deregulated it and yanked off subsidy payments on it. “But how wrong I was. Today, at almost N700/litre, I’m still chasing petrol tankers at night to know where they’ll discharge their products so I quickly queue their overnight so I’m among the first set to be served in the morning.

“But this was not the promise made to us when they removed subsidy. If you’re queuing and sleeping at the filling station to buy petrol at N170/litre, so you can well, it’s worth the stress. But at N690/litre?”

Another motorist, Mrs Mary Agu, a civil servant said she could not help but be at a filling station by 4am. “I’m a woman and my hubby is not around. So, I run the house. But since this scarcity horror began about a fortnight ago, I hardly sleep well because once my fuel indicator stick points downwards below half tank, I’ll start panicking.

“When will this torture end? The petrol is even like methylated spirit. It practically disappears without any meaningful trip. “Black market is hell. You’ll buy a litre for N1,200 or N1,100 at best. Who can survive on that? What of inflation that has pushed products’ prices to unimaginable heights? This is totally unacceptable”, she said. Black marketers who spoke to Daily Sun said the development was a golden opportunity to make brisk business as inflation and growing unemployment was battering them with reckless abandon. Musa Janjere, a 20-year old petrol hawker on Kubwa-Zuba expressway said he has a flourishing rapport with petrol attendants at filling stations. “We take our cans to them at night and they fill them up for an extra charge. So, it’s a win-win situation for me and them. “The profit is worth the stress. So, it checks out”, he said.

Aliyu Sani, another hawker who sells across from the NNPC towers in the Central Business District, mentioned that this time marked a period of thriving business for him.

“I make about  N15,000 to  N25,000 profit daily depending on how many cans of fuel I am able to sell. I buy 10 liters for around 7,000 and sell at 10,000-12,000. I suspended my pop corn and ground nut business to switch to this because it is more profitable. I hope the scarcity continues so that I can save up enough funds to start up a provisions store like I have always dreamed of”, he said.

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