Perennial Fuel Scarcity in Lagos


Peter Uzoho writes that many petrol stations in Lagos are still without the product

Ever since the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), issued a statement in November last year, threatening to shut down its filling stations across the country, Nigerians have not had it easy till date. The statement immediately led to hoarding of petroleum products by filling stations in the country. The threat which was undermined by the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), snowballed into full scale fuel crisis in the country. The incident went on till Christmas and, even till date.

Nigerians who had planned to have good times during the festivity had their plans shattered and, were plunged into painful situation throughout the period.

All the assurances from the group Managing Director of the corporation, Maikanti Baru, who debunked the potency of IPMAN’s threat, could not save the situation. Two months into the New Year, the problem persists, leaving the masses to continue suffering.

In Lagos, many of the petrol stations are still not having the product and, this is on a daily basis, generating more problems among the people.

Inside one yellow commercial bus (Danfo), as known by Lagos residents, passengers and the bus driver engaged in a free-for all verbal banter. The argument went on for a while resulting to the passengers disembarking from the vehicle. They were angered by what they described as the driver’s “greed and lack of human conscience” for increasing the fare that used to be N150 to N300. But, the driver, in a swift defence of his action would say: “Am I the cause. Where did you see fuel? Do you know how I managed to get this fuel? How many filling stations are selling fuel here?”

However, troubled by the above scenario, this reporter decided to embark on this investigation.

Arriving at Obalende the next day, my first port of call was at the Oando Filling Station. There was no vehicle and nobody indicating to have the product was on sight. But at one corner of the station was one Ojo Teslim who described himself as the Supervisor. He said their product finished since one week as at the time of my visit and that, they were expecting their trucks which were being loaded at the depot.

“Our fuel finished since last week. That’s why you are not seeing anybody here,” Teslim said.

Leaving Oando, I made a beeline to the NNPC filling station at Ikoyi, not too far from Obalende. While enroute

the station, long queues of vehicles stretching from Bank Road to the filling station caught my attention.

This was because the station’s premises had already been filled with human and vehicular presence. People carrying jerry cans were roaming around the station trying to buy petrol to resell to motorists who had lost patience waiting.

Some had been at the station all day with no hope of getting the product. Some of them who spoke to THISDAY said the station’s fuel attendants and the police were engaging in corrupt and sharp practices at the station, making it difficult for them to get it. They said the police officers posted at the station instead of helping to maintain orderliness were collecting bribes from those that came late to help them buy fuel.

Mr. Olufemi Babatunde, who does a car hiring business was seen in his car apparently brooding over the situation, said he had gone to several filling stations but could not get fuel and, decided to come to the NNPC filling station in Ikoyi.

He said he had wasted all day just to buy fuel for the day’s work. “Today has gone just like, still no fuel,” he said.

“How can we be suffering every time in this country? Imagine, you have your money but to buy fuel is now a problem.”

Another motorist at the station, Mr. Fidelis Chukwuma, said the day has been hell for him. “It’s been hell for me today. I’ve been here since morning in search of fuel. I’m supposed to go for business today but my plan for the day has been shattered,” he said.

Chukwuma wondered why the issue of fuel scarcity continues to persist in the country. According to him, “it is an irony that we produce crude oil but can’t enjoy its byproducts.”

At the Mobil Filling Station on Obafemi Awolowo Way, Ikeja, the once busy place was virtually deserted as there was no fuel when I visited. Only the supermarket store was open for business. One of the salespersons on duty, who refused to disclose her name, said they exhausted their product a day before the THISDAY visit. She said they were waiting for supply same day.

But while leaving the station, a tricycle (keke) operator, Chika Amunwa, who stopped by at the station with the intention to buy but couldn’t, said in low tone: “they’ve started hoarding again. Today there is fuel, tomorrow there is no fuel.” According to him, “that has been the practice in all the filling stations around.”

In Alimosho area of Lagos State, most of the filling stations were not having petrol as at the last check. At the POG filling station in Idimu, fuel was not available. The fuel attendant on duty, Sodiq Adeyabo, said their product exhausted one week before the THISDAY visit. When asked when they were expecting to have their next supply, he said he had no idea.

But, at Petrocam filling station on Isheri/Igando Road, Alimosho, there was petrol but with long queues of buyers waiting to buy. The queues, according to some of the buyers was as a result of unavailability of the product in other stations around the area.

They bemoaned the reoccurring fuel crisis in the country, saying corruption in all sectors of the country’s economy was the cause.

“How can we be suffering similar problem every time?” Mr. Mike Emem asked. He said the fuel crisis has impacted negatively on the life of many people since it began.

“People can no longer run their businesses the way they should. You will cook and it will get spoilt because there is no fuel to run your generator and power your fridge. And they know there is no electricity in this country. What kind of life are we living here?” Emem asked with furry.

Meanwhile, at Jibowu, most of the major filling stations such as Total, NNPC, MRS and Oando had petrol when THISDAY visited. At the MRS filling station, motorists were driving in and out at ease. The fuel attendant on duty, Daniel Emmanuel, said the station had never lacked product since the scarcity began.

“Fuel is always available here,” he said.
“Our boss does not allow that to happen. He doesn’t wait till we sell off before he will make order for supply. Here, we don’t sell to people with jerry can, that’s why you’re not seeing queues,” he explained.