Cost of living crisis worsens as price of petrol hits N350 in A/Ibom

The cost of living crisis being experienced in Nigeria is worsening in Akwa Ibom State following an increase in the pump price of petrol to N350 per litre in the state.

According to checks by BusinessDay, major towns and cities in the oil-bearing state, including Uyo, Eket, Ikot Ekpene, Oron, Ikot Abasi and Itu have recently experienced petrol scarcity resulting in the high cost of the product.

Akwa Ibom, though a major producer of crude oil and other hydrocarbons, does not have any petroleum depot or a refinery and gets most of its supplies from either Port Harcourt, Rivers State, or Calabar, in Cross River State.

Efforts by the past administration in Akwa Ibom to establish a refinery were not successful, beginning with the Amakpe refinery project during Governor Attah’s administration which was to be sited in Eket, a major oil-producing community and the Quantum petroleum initiated by a group of investors during former President Goodluck Jonathan’s era, which was to be located in Ibeno, another oil producing community.

Though the price of petrol has been relatively stable at N200 per litre before the Christmas festivities, it rose sharply to N350 per litre last week, with many independent marketers claiming not to have the product for sale.

“On Christmas Day, many of the filling stations did not open for business, only one or two marketers sold the product and it was as if they were doing the buyers a special favour”, one of the customers said.

Read also: Events that shaped Nigeria’s oil, gas sector in 2022

The sudden increase in the price of petrol has resulted in long queues at the NNPC Mega filling station in Uyo, the state capital, as hundreds of motorists spend hours in an attempt to have the product at an affordable price.

The hike in the pump price of petrol has compounded the cost of living crisis, as the prices of cooking gas and kerosene have all gone up astronomically.

For instance, 1kg of cooking gas which used to be sold at N750, now goes for N850, while kerosene has gone beyond the reach of many households, according to checks.

Meanwhile, the state government through its petroleum monitoring committee has promised to check the activities of marketers who increase prices arbitrarily.

Victor Etefia, an aide to Governor Udom Emmanuel on petroleum monitoring, is said to have frowned at the “lack of human face and the unnecessary hike in the price of petroleum products in the state,” saying that marketers selling petrol above N300 per litre were not helping matters.

According to him, it is not acceptable for petrol to be sold above N300 per litre as he advised marketers to revert to the approved template.

He said the monitoring team of his office would visit filling stations particularly “those marketers who have accessed the 1.5 million litres of petrol sourced by the state government to ensure compliance by the marketers.”

He said people should report “filling stations selling beyond N300 per litre to his office for prompt action.”

But observers believe the 1.5 litres of petroleum said to have been procured by the state government may not be enough to bring down the price of petrol which they say has reached an all-time high in recent weeks.

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