• Saturday, May 18, 2024
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Petrol crisis mutes Workers’ Day as scarcity sting lingers

Petrol crisis mutes workers’ day as scarcity sting lingers

A crippling petrol crisis has thrown a wrench into the plans of many motorists, commuters and businesses across Nigeria, muting the Workers’ Day celebration.

In most countries, May 1 is the annual Workers’ Day celebration, a time for reflection and celebration of labour rights. For most Nigerians, the focus has shifted to the struggle to simply get around and keep businesses afloat.

On Tuesday, motorists in the commercial capital of Lagos faced long queues and exorbitant prices for petrol while commuters struggled with inflated transportation costs and businesses grappled with disruptions.

“The parades and rallies seem meaningless as navigating the city to get to work has become an ordeal,” Peace Okey, a staff of a tier-one bank said.

In some parts of Lagos, passengers were made to pay higher fares for intra-city transportation.

Richard Ijie, a commercial bus driver, who plies Cele to Obalende, complained that the fuel scarcity had made driving a difficult job for them as they struggled to get fuel for their buses.

He stated that the current situation forced them to increase transport fares from the initial N1,000 to N1,200, adding that the development was greeted with protests from passengers.

He said, “The truth is that the fuel scarcity is biting harder and harder every day. What we see every day is long queues everywhere and the prices are not the same at filling stations. Though passengers complain every day, there is nothing we can do about it because we buy fuel at a high cost and we need to make profit. We have to add a little amount to the old fare.’’

A passenger, Aminu Sadiq, who shuttles between Oshodi and Mile 2, said he paid N600 to a commercial bus instead of N200.

Transportation fare for routes like Oke Afa to Ikotun, which was previously N500, doubled to N1,000. Oshodi to Jakande Gate was raised to N1, 000 from 500 naira.

The petrol scarcity comes at a time when Nigerian workers are being squeezed by rising inflation and stagnant wages, fanning one of the worst cost-of-living crises in the country’s history.

Atiku Abubakar, former vice president of Nigeria, has bemoaned the plight of Nigerian workers, saying that the current administration’s policies had made cost of living difficult for the people.

Atiku stated this on Monday in an International Workers’ Day message to Nigerian workers.

He said that no administration in the history of the country has trampled upon workers’ rights like the incumbent Bola Tinubu’s administration, while expressing sympathy with workers over their plight in the country.

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential candidate in the 2023 general election lamented that the Federal Government’s economic policies were not yielding the needed fruit to improve the living condition of workers.

According to the statement, “Since the days of legend Michael Imoudu, to later day fire brands such as Pascal Bafyau and Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the Nigerian worker has been at the forefront of the fight against tyranny and bad governance.

“No administration in our history has trampled workers’ rights like this one. Daily, workers face uncertainty over skyrocketing prices of essential goods.

“The Nigerian worker has had it so rough under this current administration and it is unfortunate that while the living conditions of the Nigerian worker remain at a miserably low ebb, the Nigerian government continues to regale its international audiences with tales of how the masses are being weaned off their wasteful dependence on government.

“It is thus, beginning to appear, that as far as the current Federal Government is concerned, the management of our country’s micro-economic outlook is an unwieldy laboratory experiment, to which the Nigerian worker is laid prostrate.

“While I cannot but share my sympathy with the Nigerian worker for the way the current government has ridiculed her for far too long, I must equally express my felicitations with the Nigerian worker on this year’s Workers’ Day.

“It is my hope that the theme of this year’s Labour Day: ‘Ensuring Safety and Health at Work in a Changing Climate’, will inspire the Nigerian government to put the concerns of the Nigerian worker on the front burner.”

Bola Tinubu, Nigeria’s president, has delivered big reforms since he rose to power last June.

One of them was the removal of a costly petrol subsidy. Tinubu was however forced to backtrack on the subsidy removal as a cost-of-living crisis deepened in Nigeria.