26 December 2015, Lagos – It was indeed a bleak Christmas in many states across the country as an acute shortage of fuel kept many families at home throughout Friday
The fuel scarcity, which began two months ago in the country, became worsened during the Yuletide season as many filling stations were shut. As a result of this, many people could not go to church because there were only few commercial vehicles on the roads.
In Jos, virtually all the filling stations across the city were shut while only a few ones like the NNPC Mega station sold to an endless queue of vehicles.
Black marketers cashed in on the situation, selling a four-litre keg for N1, 500, as security operatives took up strategic positions in most parts of the metropolis to forestall any terrorist attack.
Also, residents of Kwara State, especially the state capital, Ilorin, celebrated the Christmas Day with less excitement.
Though, many Christians managed to find their way to places of worship to celebrate the birth of Jesus, majority of the residents spent most of the day queuing for petrol at filling stations.
Many vehicle owners complained bitterly of the hardship inflicted on them by the lingering fuel scarcity across the country, especially in the Ilorin metropolis.
A motorist, Mr. John Bala, said he spent over eight hours in the queue and was disappointed that when it was almost his turn to buy petrol, the stock was exhausted at the petrol station.
As a result of the fuel crisis, many recreation centres in the state were deserted while transport fares almost doubled.
Similarly, the fuel crisis in the country adversely affected human and vehicular traffic in Lagos on Christmas Day.
Many of the filling stations, which had opened the previous day were shut, forcing desperate residents to patronise black market traders, who sold fuel for as high as N170 per litre. However, some filling stations, which were open for business, had to deal with the long queues of vehicles.
In Ogun State, the fuel scarcity also bit hard in the state as many of the major oil dealers did not have the product in stock.
With the exception of the NNPC Mega Station on Abiola Way and the MRS filling station at Isale Igbein, both located in Abeokuta, many other major dealers like Mobil, Forte Oil, Total, and Conoil, did not open to customers, as most of them claimed they did not have petrol.
Our correspondent, who monitored the situation in Abeokuta, Sango-Ota, Ifo and Ijebu Ode, discovered that many of the independent marketers, who had petrol, were selling at N120 per litre.
The NNPC mega station and MRS filling stations, Abeokuta sold at the official price of N87 per litre. These two attracted longer queues of motorists.
Though there were queues in the few filling stations belonging to independent marketers, not as long as that seen at NNPC and MRS. Only one of them, SurreyB filling station, located in Elega area of Abeokuta sold to the few motorists in the queue at N100 per litre.
The fuel scarcity doused the excitement of the Christmas Day for Christians as most roads in the state were deserted.
Many motorists said they had to resort to leaving their vehicles at home because the few petrol stations that opened for business sold the product for as high as N140.
Only one filling station on the popular Adebayo Road in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, sold it at N118 – the cheapest in the town.
One of our correspondents in Edo State learnt that motorists had to pay between N150 and N180 per litre to get the product at the few filling stations that were open for sales.
The situation was evident on the virtually deserted Sapele Road, Akpakpava, Reservation Avenue and many other busy roads in Benin, the state capital.
The cost of transportation also recorded a sharp increase as many holidaymakers had to pay double the cost of transportation to most relaxation spots.
For instance, it was learnt that the cost of getting to the city centre from Eyaen or Ikpoba Hill increased from N100 to N150 or N200.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that in Kogi State, the situation was not better as the exorbitant price tag on petrol left many parts of the state drab.
In Lokoja, the state capital, most filling stations, particularly the major marketers, were without fuel while long queues were visible along major routes leading to filling stations where fuel was available at high prices.
At Perotec Filling Station along the Ganaja Road in Lokoja, a litre of petrol was sold for N160 on Christmas Day.
Consequently, commuters were forced to pay exorbitant fare for transportation within and out of the state.
For instance, Lokoja-Abuja which ordinarily costs N1, 500 jumped to N2, 500, while Lokoja- Lagos climbed to N7, 000 from N5, 000.
Similarly in Ondo State, many of the towns and villages celebrated Christmas in low key as many spent the day at the filling stations.
Many filling stations were under lock and key while those that opened for business sold the product for between N125 and N140 per litre.
However, some major marketers and NNPC Mega Stations sold at the official pump price of N87 per litre forcing many residents to endure endless queues at the stations.
It was learnt that in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, black market operators sold five litres of fuel for N1, 000 on Christmas Day. In Sabo area of the city, five litres of the commodity was sold for N1, 200. A few fuel stations that sold to motorists in Ibadan area sold a litre for N120 while one of the filling stations in Adeoyo area of the city sold a litre of petrol for N130.
The scarcity of the product in the state reached a new height this week as only a few vehicles were seen on major roads in the state despite the Christmas season.
Our correspondent observed that the scarcity noticeably affected the patronage of relaxation centres in the state as commercial motorcyclists and transport operators charged exorbitant fares.