Fuel queues return in Lagos as scarcity bites

Queues to buy petrol formed in many filling stations across Lagos on Tuesday, worsening traffic situation and leaving many stranded at bus stops across the state.

Following the threat to shut down supplies by the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) due to rampant extortion, intimidation, and violent attacks by hoodlums on its members, petrol is becoming scarce again in the country that, until few months ago, was Africa’s biggest crude producer.

Afolabi Olawale, general secretary of NUPENG, in an October 28 letter to the state governor, said the union had previously denounced the activities of these elements and written to several authorities, including security agencies to curtail them, but to no avail.

“I have been standing at the bus stop for almost an hour because public buses are scarce,” Blessing Dike, an attendant on her way to work, told BusinessDay.

Since the controversy surrounding the sustainability of paying fuel subsidies in Nigeria assumed existential threat, petrol pump price has risen from the regulated price of N165 per litre to around N180. Enquiries show that some petrol stations were selling as high as N220.

Petrol stations with the most queues are those selling at the government-regulated price.

“Fuel stations are selling at their own discretion,” Blessing Akinade, a private car owner, said.

Read also: Fuel queues: Don’t panic, we’ve enough stock, says NNPC

Another commuter urged the federal government to find a lasting solution to this “negative trend.”

“The epileptic state of fuel availability in the country needs to be rectified,” she said. “They should find a permanent solution to the issues of fuel scarcity.”

Earlier in the year, Zainab Ahmed, minister of finance, budget and national planning, said the Federal Government will spend N6.7 trillion on fuel subsidies in 2023.

However, when presenting a N20.51 trillion budget plan for 2023 to the National Assembly, President Muhammadu Buhari advocated the elimination of fuel subsidies in 2023, claiming that the programme was unsustainable, given the current economic conditions.

“Discontinuing the policy is necessary for the country to manage its limited resources. As a country, we must now confront this issue taking cognisance of the need to provide safety nets to cushion the attendant effects on some segments of society,” he said.

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