• Saturday, June 22, 2024
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BusinessDay

Commuters lament as transporters hike fares

Commuters in several parts of the country

Commuters in several parts of the country lamented the spike in transport fares on Tuesday as fuel stations hiked the pump prices of petrol following the statement made by President Bola Tinubu on Monday.

Barely hours after the new President said “fuel subsidy is gone” in his inaugural speech, long queues resurfaced across petrol stations in major cities, especially Lagos, as some stations began shutting their pumps.

BusinessDay observed that petrol queues grew longer in Lagos, Abuja and some other parts of the country on Tuesday as motorists and other users jostled to get the product.

In Abuja, some filling stations were still selling the product for N195 per litre while black marketers sold it for N350-N400.

BusinessDay spoke with some Abuja residents along Lugbe road, with many of them joining petrol queues while some waited for vehicles to convey them to their destinations.

“This new president does not mean well for Nigerians. He just got to office and he is already making life difficult. Because of this fuel subsidy removal, some filling stations are refusing to sell petrol, they are waiting for the new price to be announced,” Olu Makinde, an Abuja resident, said.

He said poor Nigerians will be affected more because if the price of petrol is increased, the price of every other thing will increase and it will affect poverty levels.

A taxi driver who identified himself as Ibrahim said automatically fares will increase because the stress to buy fuel and the possible increase in price will have an effect.

He said the new policy caught them unaware and has made it difficult for them to get petrol, especially as many filling stations have stopped the sales of petrol, leading to long queues and difficulty in getting the fuel.

“I was able to get fuel at the same N195, after spending a long time on the queue and I expect this queues to remain for a long time; however we know this will end in price increase,” he said.

Anya Linda, another resident and an entrepreneur, was angry after she waited for over 30 minutes at the bus stop with no taxi available and the one she eventually saw double the fare.

“As a hairdresser, I need light to work and I have to rely on a generator, but with this scarcity again and possible increase in price, I may not work at full capacity and I will definitely increase my charges,” she said.

In Akwa Ibom State, anger, shock and disbelief greeted the sudden increase in the price of petrol by marketers.

According to findings, the price of petrol, which had remained relatively stable over the past few weeks, rose by 100 percent from N250 per litre to N500 as marketers initially shut down their business outlets earlier on Tuesday but later reopened to sell petrol at between N500 and N600 per litre.

“On Monday morning, marketers were selling Premium Motor Spirit, otherwise known as petrol, at N250 per litre but suddenly in the afternoon after the president’s inaugural address in which he made reference to the removal of subsidy on petrol, marketers reacted with the closure of their business outlets,’’ one resident said.

Our correspondent observed that many filling stations within the city centre did not open for business and they did not give any explanation as commuters and transport operators were stranded following the scarcity of petrol and the increase in transport fares.

In the outskirts of Uyo, the state capital, and in other towns like Etinan and Ikot Ekpene and Eket as well as Oron, marketers had immediately adjusted the price of petrol per litre to N600.

“What this means is that N5,000 can only buy 10 litres of petrol at the current price of N500 per litre and may not fetch up to that quantity of petrol if it sold at N600 per litre,” one motorist said.

The availability of petrol in many filling stations in Uyo and its environs before the president’s announcement had drastically reduced the activities of roadside hawkers of petrol, who became noticeable along some parts of the state capital on Tuesday.

The issue of subsidy payments and removal has been lingering for many years as previous presidents unsuccessfully tried to remove subsidy despite being a drain on government fiannces.

Mele Kyari, group chief executive officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, revealed in February that Nigeria was spending N400 billion on subsidy payments.

Tinubu has said his government would re-channel the funds into better investment in public infrastructure, education, health care and jobs that will materially improve the lives of millions.

BusinessDay observed that in Benin, the Edo State capital, some filling stations were selling petrol for between N300 and N500 per litre, while others were not dispensing the product.

The situation subjected motorists to harrowing experiences and placed commuters at the mercy of transporters, who had no choice but to increase the cost of transportation.

A driver, who stood for hours on the queue to buy the product at N300, said: “I pity passengers because it is how I bought that is how I am going to charge them. But, there is no way I can buy at a price more than N500 per litre. If I buy at that rate, how much will I charge my passengers?”

“Nigerians are too greedy. We are our own problem. The president hasn’t removed the subsidy yet, but because he stated something regarding subsidy during the swearing-in ceremony, every marketer decided to keep the product and cheat on their fellow citizens,” a commuter said.

Residents of Ondo state, particularly in Akure, woke up to the scarcity of petrol as most of the filling stations within the city had stopped dispensing petrol.

The development caused a reduction in vehicular movements on most of the roads in the state.

At some of the filling stations dispensing the product, the product was sold for between N350 and N400.

Read also: Fuel scarcity is artificial, stop panic buying, says Consumer Protection Agency

Some residents who lamented over the development lashed out at the fuel marketers for their alleged deliberate attempts to frustrate the new administration.

Ismail Adewole, a taxi driver in Akure, said he was on queue for over an hour at one of the filling stations situated around Ilesa garage, waiting to get a few litres into his vehicle.

Adewole believed that the President’s statement on subsidy ought not to have an immediate effect on the price of the product.

He said; “We are just our own problem in this country, not the government. Tinubu was sworn in on Monday, and all of a sudden they (fuel marketers) began to lock their filling stations in anticipation of selling at a higher price.

“I got here over an hour ago after I had driven around Akure in search of petrol. I believe this issue of subsidy should once and for all be settled.”

He, however, said the new administration must ensure that the country is rescued from the grasp of fuel marketers.