Social and economic activities have been paralysed in five states of the North West as the scarcity of petrol bites harder, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports.
A check by NAN in Kano, Kaduna, Sokoto, Kebbi and Katsina states shows that the commodity had disappeared from most filling stations while hawkers of the product have taken over streets.
The situation has forced most residents including commercial drivers to abandon their vehicles, while others now trek to their destinations.
Transport fares have since gone up as commercial vehicle drivers and motorcyclists also contend with the high cost of fuel.
In Sokoto, a community leader, Alhaji Bello Abdullahi, said the fuel scarcity has also led to rise in the cost of essential commodities.
“The failure of the regulatory body responsible to make the products available has maded lives more difficult for Nigerians.
“Most parents now don’t take their children to school because they cannot afford N1,500 for a four liter gallon of petrol,” Abdullahi lamented.
He called on the Federal Government to adopt stringent measures that will make the products available in all filling stations and at government approved price.
Another resident, Alhaji Masa Yabo lamented that the situation had limited the scope of Nigerians to undertake social visits to friends and relations due to the high cost of transportation.
He said government must do whatever is possible to normalise the situation and reduce the cost of food stuff in markets.
Yabo suggested the introduction of a price control system, to check manipulation of the market by shylock oil marketers and traders.
A bus driver, Yusuf Adamu in Mabera area of Sokoto, said he wasted more than 12 hours on queue on Sunday, in an effort to buy petrol at N86.50k per litre, but the product finished before getting to him.
In Kano, some motorists said the situation was caused by the “illegal activities of some unpatriotic marketers in the state.”
They claimed that such marketers were not only reluctant to sell the commodity but had refused to comply with the government’s directive on fuel price.
According to them, some of the filling stations sell the commodity to black marketers who resell it at exorbitant prices to members of the public.
“The marketers in Kano are bent on sabotaging the government’s determination to end fuel scarcity in the country.
“People in Kano have since the beginning of this year been battling with fuel scarcity and with the unpatriotic attitude of some of the marketers, the problem may not end soon “, a marketer, Malam Jamilu Sani, said.
A motorist, Adamu Abdullahi also accused the marketers of creating artificial scarcity in order to maximize profit.
He called on the federal government to take stringent measures against “economic saboteurs” in order to check the persistent fuel scarcity in the country.
“The Federal Government should take decisive action to bring to an end the ugly situation which has crippled socio-economic activities across the country,” Abdullahi said.
NAN investigation revealed that most filling stations in Kano metropolis have remained closed, with fuel only available in black market.
A four litre of the commodity cost between N1, 200 and N1,300 at the black market as against N600 a month ago.
In the few filling stations selling petrol, motorists pay between N220 and N230 per litre as against the official price of N86.50.
Already, private vehicle owners especially civil servants have parked their vehicles due to the fuel scarcity..
Commercial vehicle drivers had also increased their fares by about 100 per cent as passengers now pay N100 as against N50 depending on the distance within the city.
In Kebbi, the state government has taken over the allocation of fuel to filling stattions in order to regulate the movement of fuel tankers.
Gov. Atiku Bagudu said the decision was to control diversion and ease the hardship faced by motorists.
He said Sole Administrators of local councils would supervise the sale of petrol in their locality and would be held responsible for any lapses.
NAN gathered that each of the local government areas of the state have been allocated a tanker of petrol for sale at designated filling stations at N87 per litre.
In spite of the measure, some filling stations in Birnin Kebbi still sale the product at N220 per liter.
A litre of petrol in the blackmarket goes for between N400 and N450, prompting commercial motorists to also charge between N100 and N150 per drop.
The fares for travellers outside the state had also gone up by about 70 per cent.
Passengers travelling to Kano for instance now pay N3500 against the fornmer fare of N2,500.
In Katsina, even commercial drivers are parking their vehicles due to the fuel scarcity, as it is no longer profitable to travel.
The cost of fuel across the state ranged between N220 and N230 per litre, while a four-liter gallon sales for between N1,500 and N1,600.
Malam Tasiu Aliyu, a commercial driver said that some of them had to park their vehicle because they were no longer making profit.
“I have parked my car due to the fuel scarcity, because one cannot make profit after buying fuel at such price.
“Even the number of passengers have drastically reduced, because people now travel only when necessary,’’ he said.
Investigation also reveals that only the NNPC Mega station in Katsina is selling the commodity at the government controlled price of N86 per liter.
Malam Yau Musa, a civil servant, told NAN that he had also parked his car because “it is cheaper to take Okada to the office than to purchase a gallon of fuel at the cost of N1,600.”
In Kaduna, where Gov. Nasiru El-Rufa’i announced the ban on the sale of fuel in gallons, the price of the product immediately jumped from N800 to between N1, 600 to N2, 000 for a four litre gallon.
The Kaduna State Chapter of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) has officially jerked up transport fares by 50 per cent due to the fuel scarcity.
The Assistant Auditor of the Union, Malam Lawal Isa, told NAN that the increment was below the 100 per cent demanded by the drivers.
Isa explained that officially, transport fare from Kaduna to Kano was increased from N1000 to N1500, while Kaduna to Zaria also increased from N350 to N450.
On town service, he said that motorists now charged N100 from Kawo to Central Market and also N150 from Central market to Sabon Tasha from the initial N70 charged for the same trip.
According to him, the union pegged the increment at 50 per cent to tally with the current economic situation in the country.
He blamed the development on none availability of the product as well as the state government ban of black marketters.
“The price increased the moment Kaduna State Government banned hawking of petrol by black marketers.
“The moment the state government announced the ban, filling station hiked their price from N150 or so to N220 or N250 per litre.
“Consequently, the hawkers equally increased their price from N250 to N500 per litre,” Isa said.
Malam Ahmed Aliyu, a driver also told NAN that the fuel situation has become a threat to their survival.
“The transport business is no longer lucrative as it used to be.
“With petrol now selling for N500 per litre in the state, drivers hardly recoup the amount spent on fueling the car.
“For example, if am loading to Kano, I need 50 litres, which would cost me N11, 000 at N220, that is if I am lucky to buy at filling station.
“Eventually I will realize N13, 000 only if I charge N1500.
“If I could not get it in filling station and had to buy from hawkers, how much do you expect me to charge?
“Many drivers have parked their vehicles, because they find it difficult to meet up with daily remittance, “Aliyu said.
Shuaibu Usman, another driver said: “I currently need N6000 from the initial N1, 600 worth of fuel to go four trips from Central Market to Gonin Gora, and I only increased the fair from N100 to N150.
“There is no profit at all”.
A commuter, Zainab Hamza described the development as pathetic, “particularly that the masses who voted the current government into power are the ones that are suffering more from the scarcity.
“We do not have much money and the little we have we spend on transportation”.
Another commuter, Yakubu Usman also described the situation as unfortunate, adding that people are being force to trek because of fuel scarcity.
“For how long will this continue?” he asked.
Chairman of Kano State Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Alhaji Bashir Dan-Malam denied that his members were diverting the commodity.
According to him, the scarcity is a result of inadequate allocation of the commodity from the NNPC.
He alleged that some of their vehicles spent a number of weeks in Lagos and other parts of the country to buy the commodity without getting it.
The Sokoto State Chairman of IPMAN, Alhaji Sule Magaji commended the federal government for according priority to its members in the recent efforts to remedy the situation.
“More plausible steps should however be taken to ensure the sustainable availability of petroleum products across the country.
“Efforts should be made to ensure the haulage of petroleum products using rail lines, while modular refineries should be established.
“There is also the urgent need to ensure that all the refineries are fully functioning, so that all the depots across the nation will be operational,” Magaji said.
Mr Muhammad Makera, the Sokoto Zonal Operations Controller of the Department of Petroleum Resources ( DPR) told NAN that the problem was due to shortfall in supply and appealed for more patience.
Makera said that in Sokoto for instance, only eighteen trucks were allocated to the city by the NNPC between April 5 and April 9, as against the average daily supply of 20 to 25 trucks.
”The Federal Government is making frantic efforts to urgently redress the ugly situation across the country,” he added. (NAN)