25 May 2015, Lagos – One of Nigeria’s biggest banks on Monday announced it was shutting branches early due to a lack of fuel, in the latest sign of shortages hitting businesses.
“The current shortage of petroleum products in the country has limited our ability to supply diesel to all our branches in order to continue normal branch operations,” GT Bank said in a statement on Twitter.
“Due to this we unavoidably have to close our branches nationwide at 1pm (1200 GMT) from Monday 25th May, 2015.”
Guaranty Trust Bank plc has branches across Nigeria, as well as Anglophone and Francophone West Africa, East Africa and Britain, with an overall staff of more than 10,000.
Nigeria has been brought to a virtual standstill by fuel shortages, caused by a row between the outgoing government and importers, as well as strikes by petrol tanker drivers and oil and gas workers.
Despite being Africa’s biggest oil producer, petroleum products have to be imported to Nigeria because of a lack of functioning domestic refineries.
The government keeps the price at the pumps below the market rate for consumers and pays the difference to importers and marketers.
But they say they are owed $2 billion in arrears and have shut fuel depots until the balance is paid.
The government maintains the money has been paid and the importers are holding the country to ransom by demanding losses from the slump in the naira currency caused by the global drop in oil prices.
Telecoms operators said at the weekend they may be forced to shut down networks if no fuel supplies are found for generators that power base stations and switches.
Nigerian homes and businesses are forced to use generators because of poor to non-existent grid supply.