• Sunday, June 23, 2024
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Fuel scarcity hurts businesses, motorists as union calls off strike

Fuel scarcity hurts businesses, motorists as union calls off strike

Fuel queues have resurfaced in different parts of Nigeria as Labour unions in the country relaxed their industrial action for further notice, leading to businesses and motorists loggerheads at fuel stations.

Findings by BusinessDay showed traffic in major parts of Lagos, caused by long lines of motorists waiting to buy fuel in major petrol stations.

In April, Nigeria witnessed one of its worst cases of petrol scarcity, which began with a simple logistic issue but spiralled out of control in the following weeks, causing a major hike in transport fares, closure of businesses, and stranded commuters.

Read also:Synergies and responsibilities in addressing persistent fuel scarcity in Nigeria

The scarcity which prolonged for weeks before settling down seems to have reemerged as customers have resumed panic buying. Industry experts have tagged the nationwide strike by organised labour as the cause of the scarcity.

On May 31, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) declared an indefinite nationwide strike to begin on June 3, over the federal government’s refusal to increase the minimum wage from N60,000.

In the same vein, The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) directed its members to comply with the directive of the labour unions to begin an indefinite nationwide strike on Monday.

However, on Tuesday, the NLC announced that it has suspended the strike it started Monday, following a meeting with some of its affiliate Unions at the Labour House, to fashion out the way forward on the nationwide strike.

Despite the called-off strike, motorists, business owners and commuters still suffer the brunt and witness the strike’s aftermath.

At Victoria Garden City, popularly known as VGC, BusinessDay’s findings showed long queues at the NorthWest filling station which caused serious traffic jams in the area.

Most filling stations visited in Ibeju-Lekki local government areas of Lagos State were locked, while there were long queues at stations dispensing the product.

One Simeon Bassey said he had to wait for up to three hours to buy fuel, and he still wasn’t successful, resorting to searching for the product elsewhere.

“I had to delay my 9 am meeting to buy fuel, hoping that I would only spend a few minutes at the station, but to my surprise, I was in the queue for more than two hours, and I had to cancel and reschedule my meeting,” Bassey said.

Another motorist and businessman who owns a cybercafe, Tunde Ogunsanya, said he hasn’t been able to make any sales in his shop today after he sent his apprentice to go and buy fuel for his gen, but he returned with an empty keg.

Read also: Fuel scarcity to worsen as IPMAN threatens to cut supply nationwide

“The shop has been open since 8 am, but I’ve had to turn down every customer that comes in to print or photocopy because there is no fuel in the shop. The shutdown of the national grid is not even making things easier, as we’ve not had light since the weekend,” Ogunsanya said.

He added, “At this point, I may have to close down the shop and tell everybody to go home because, without light or fuel in the gen, we can’t do anything.”

On Monday, the Labour Union shut down the national grid, resulting in a nationwide blackout, the national grid shutdown occurred at about 2.19 am on Monday.

The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) said all operators were driven away from the control room of the Benin Transmission Operator under the Independent System Operations unit.

“Staff that resisted were beaten while some were wounded in the course of forcing them out of the control room and without any form of control or supervision, the Benin Area Control Center was brought to zero,” Ndid Mbah, spokesperson of the TCN, said.

Sunday Ajo, a taxi driver, also stated that he had to park his car and use public transport to hunt for fuel.

Ajo said, “I should have been on the road since 6 am to start work for the day but I haven’t been able to get fuel for my car”.