As petrol scarcity bites harder across the country, hawkers of the product, popularly called black marketers, are recording a boom in business. Investigations revealed that a litre of petrol, which officially should sell for N86.50, now sells for N180 and above at the black market.

Bad enough, further investigation on the fuel situation in Lagos metropolis showed that most filling stations were not selling as they remained shut, having run out of stock due to acute shortage of the product at the depots.

Many families, who wished to travel for Easter celebrations, also shelved the idea as it appeared there was no quick fix to the problem.

Also, prices of goods soared, a situation attributed to the petrol crisis while marketers blamed the situation on government’s decision to make the NNPC the sole importer of petrol.

Some of the stations in Lagos closed to motorists in the past one week include Mobil, MRS, AP, Oando and NNPC franchise stations among others.

Officials at the filling stations argued that the issue of forex restriction had also led to huge disruption of supply of the product to their stations.

Although many motor parks in Lagos metropolis were filled with large crowds of intending travellers for Easter celebrations, only few vehicles were made available by bus operators despite the hike in fares which rose up to 50 percent.

For instance, the transport fare of N3,500 from Lagos to Onitsha went up to between N4,500 and N5,500 by bus. The situation left many passengers stranded at Ojota, Maza Maza and Ojuelegba parks.

One of the passengers, who simply identified himself as Papa Ejima, while sharing his experience, said, “The price of everything is getting out of hand. I am not really impressed by government efforts aimed at addressing the problem. Even the transporters have run out of ideas on how to handle the situation.

The few travellers who can afford the high fares still cannot get vehicles to travel due to acute fuel scarcity. I just can’t understand the kind of country that we are running”. Meanwhile, Engr.Martin Onovo, a petroleum engineer and the 2015 presidential candidate, National Conscience Party, NCP, has said that petrol scarcity has not defined an appropriate solution, adding that government cannot take the wrong decisions and expect the right answers.

According to him, supply of petroleum products is basic, stressing that a simple ‘petroleum products supply management system’ will ensure super-adequate supply and eliminate scarcity. “But an appropriate ‘petroleum products supply management system’ for Nigeria can only come from an effective Federal Government. Simply, anything that constrains supply of petroleum products can cause scarcity.

These constraints include bureaucratic delays, policy uncertainties and somersaults, banking restrictions, strikes and industrial crisis, corruption, incompetence, etc. An appropriate ‘petroleum products supply management system’ for Nigeria will have clear objectives, scope, roles and responsibilities, procedures, preventive systems, verification systems, correction systems, feedback and update provisions, etc. This is basic and simple in modern management best practices.”

The way forward is simple. Restore and increase domestic refining capacity through refining plant maintenance and upgrade programs. This will boost national productivity, increase employment, strengthen the Naira and increase our GDP. In the interim, engage only competent engineering managers to develop and oversee a ‘petroleum products supply management system’ to ensure adequate supply of petroleum products from foreign sources.”

*Akoma Chinweoke & Olayinka Ajayi – Vanguard

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