Some Nigerians have had to change their cars to reduce their petrol consumption, even as the cost of the fuel has forced many workers to drive less to work.
Our correspondent observed that some workers including civil servants in major cities no longer drive to their offices. Some employees who reside in the suburbs and work in the city centres have parked their SUVs and other big-engine vehicles that gobble up petrol.
Low-income earners that live in areas accessible by mass transit now prefer to go for mass transit buses and cheaper alternatives in order to reduce the impact of high transportation costs on their monthly spending, which has skyrocketed since petrol pump prices increased to as high as N617/litre from N195/litre due to the removal of subsidy by the Federal Government.
Joy Osaze, a 43-year-old sales executive with a logistics firm in Lagos, said she had to dump her Honda SUV car because it was consuming a lot of petrol.
Osaze said she has bought a highly fuel-efficient car.
She said: “Before the subsidy removal, I was spending between N15,000 and N20,000 weekly on fuelling my Honda Pilot but with the increase in pump prices, I discovered that I spent a minimum of N75,000 weekly on buying fuel, which amounts to N300,000 monthly.
“I was forced to park my car at home for over two months because the cost of fuelling did not add up for me unless I had to be spending my salary on buying petrol only when my other expenses including my children’s school fees were there struggling for the little salary that I earn.
“This was why I had to take up a loan to buy a smaller engine car that is highly fuel efficient; rather than spend that much on fuel, I can use it to service the loan and I plan to dispose of my Honda SUV because I will not be able to maintain it again.”
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Ngozi Ibekwe, a Lagos-based businesswoman, said it was becoming extremely difficult to spend over N80,000 on petrol every week at a time business activity has shrunk.
“I have put my Nissan Xterra SUV for sale because it consumes a lot of fuel. That was why I switched to Toyota Matrix, which is smaller and consumes less fuel,” she said.
Adenike Akande, a human resource executive, said: “I stay in Epe, and my office is at Victoria Island. I spend over N100,000 fuelling my car weekly and that is really on the high side. So, I sold my Mercedes Benz SUV to get a Honda Civic, which is more fuel-efficient,” she said.
Emmanuel Orji, an accountant with an advertising firm in Lagos, said he recently disposed of his Nissan SUV to get a Kia Rio, which consumes less fuel.
“My Nissan SUV wanted to rip me off because I was spending way beyond my capacity to fuel the car. I live in the Surulere area of Lagos and work in Ikeja and the spending has become much easier since I started using a smaller car,” Orji said.
Sunday ThankGod, another Lagos-based employee, said he has two cars.
He said he has resolved to use his Volvo SUV only on Sundays to go to church and on special events because it consumes so much fuel.
“Any time I take the Volvo SUV to work, I spend as much as N20,000 on fuel only to return home to see the fuel gauge on reserve. But with just N10,000, I will fuel my small Toyota Corolla, take it to work and will return home effortlessly, ” ThankGod said.
Many Lagos roads, which used to be notorious for traffic congestion, are now devoid of gridlock except for areas and roads that are full of portholes, which slow down the movement of motorists.
“Nigerians are now more interested in buying cars with good fuel consumption or that have fuel efficiency due to the high pump prices of fuel. Buyers are now cautious in buying cars and they tend to make very thoughtful decisions,” Maxim Makarchuk, chief operating officer of Cars45 and Jiji, said in an interview.
Effiong Godspower, another marketing executive with a real estate firm in Lagos, said that before the subsidy removal, he was spending about N21,000 every week to fuel his Hyundai SUV car but the cost has increased to over N40,000.
“I drive to the office every day because I have an official car but I fuel the car myself. Now, I pay serious attention to where I buy fuel because some petrol stations have terrible pumps, and you will need to spend more to fill your tank,” he said.
Godspower said that he no longer uses AC while driving in the morning to conserve fuel, adding that he only turns on the AC when it is raining or when driving in a dusty area.
“We are now working for fuel because we spend over 50 percent of our monthly earnings on fuelling our cars. It is worst for those of us in the line of marketing because we must go out to meet our clients. We have some marketers who go on pool cars, and they get a fuel allowance of N18,000-N20,000; most of them don’t do much because if the fuel finishes on Tuesday or Wednesday, they will park the car and stay in the office, and this affects their performances,” he added.
Oluwatosin Ajayi, a civil servant who works with the state government, told BusinessDay that the high cost of fuelling his car was taking a huge toll on his income.
He said he no longer drives often to the office or on long-distance journeys but prefers to take mass transit or commercial buses, which to him, is manageable compared to fuelling and maintaining his car.
“BRT buses have been my saving grace in the face of this soaring transportation fare. I live in the Isolo area of Lagos and work on Victoria Island. The commercial business charges as high as N800-N1,000 to Obalende but the BRT collects N250 to Obalende/CMS, which is far cheaper,” Nkechi Ezeagu, a young human resources executive, said.
Ezeagu said her only issue with taking BRT buses is the number of people that queue at the bus stop to board the bus, especially during peak hours, but it makes her leave home earlier than usual.
She pleaded with the Federal Government to fulfil its promise by investing in buying more mass transit for Lagos and other states in Nigeria to cushion the cost of transportation for people.