25 May 2015, Abuja – As fuel scarcity bites harder in Rivers State and residents feel pangs of pain, sellers of the product in the black market are celebrating their profit and praying that the scarcity should not end.
Most of the black marketers are unemployed youths, who see fuel scarcity as opportunity for them to embark on a brisk business for quick profit. All they do, according to one of them, Charity Sunju, who is always present at a Con Oil filling station in the morning, is to stay all night at the filling station, obtain the product and then resell to motorists the next day.
Sunju, an undergraduate of Ignatius Ajuru University of Education in Rivers State, told Southern City New he wished the fuel scarcity should not end to enable her to make more money to pay her bills at school.
She explained that the thought of not selling at the black market was scary, adding that the scarcity of petrol was a blessing to some of them, especially unemployed youths. Sunju disclosed that they sometimes slept at filling stations to get the scarce commodity and resell to motorists.
“We make some money here. We don’t have jobs and when fuel scarcity comes, we sell black market and make profit. It may be pains to some people, but are making our gains. For now, we (black marketers) want the fuel scarcity to continue since the government cannot create a system that will ensure sustainable fuel supply to Nigerians.
“It is not easy for us too because most times, we sleep at petrol stations whenever there is serious fuel scarcity. I slept in this filling station throughout the night in order to get the fuel I am selling this morning.
“I am a student of Ignatius and since funds given to me by my parents cannot be enough, the fuel scarcity always presents itself as an opportunity to go the extra mile to make money. The extra mile is to sleep at filling stations and get the product that we later sell in the day to motorists. In normal situation, 10 litres of petrol should be between N900 and N1,000, but we sell the same quantity today at N1,700. That means N170 per litre.
Another black market operator, who identified himself as Gabriel, explained that the number of containers a person could fill at the filling station would determine the amount of profit the person would make. Gabriel also added that the price of petrol changes based on the level of non-availability of the product.
He said, “We are very happy over the fuel scarcity. We make quick profit in this business. It is simple. Stay close to a filling station around your area and buy the product, keep it till daybreak and sell as black market to those who may not have time to queue to buy fuel.
“We make profit based on the number of rubber containers we have and the amount of money you want to invest in the temporary business. When fuel is scarce, you see us and when it is not scarce, it means we have no job at that moment. If you can sell 20 rubber cans in a day, you can make at least N15,000 profit. We are praying that it should continue so that we can make more money too.
However, one of the black marketers at a filling station along Port Harcourt-Aba Expressway, who simply identified himself as Benson, said though he was making money from the fuel scarcity, the shortage of fuel in a country that ranked the sixth largest producer of oil was embarrassing.
He argued that since black market operators were not responsible for the persistent fuel scarcity in the nation, no task force should stop them from selling black market.
“Though, I make my profit here, the solution to the fuel scarcity is that government should repair our refineries and build new ones. If they build more refineries and we have enough fuel, we as black marketers that enjoy during fuel scarcity would find another business. We cannot stay in the same business forever.
“Some of the governors and senators have refineries outside the country. Nobody should form any task force against us because we will resist them. We are not the cause of the fuel scarcity. They (government) should build more refineries and stop exporting crude oil abroad to refine and bring it back to Nigeria.
“Because they have refineries abroad, they make arrangement to refine our crude oil abroad and import it to Nigeria, what kind of nonsense is that? Our governors and senators are doing nothing,” Benson, who is reading Geology at the University of Port Harcourt, told Southern City News.