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Border communities groan under fuel scarcity

Despite repeated assurances by the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, that there is enough petrol in stock that…

Despite repeated assurances by the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, that there is enough petrol in stock that can serve consumers for the next one month, the pump prices of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) have continued to rise in most parts of the border communities in Lagos and Ogun states.

The product (PMS or petrol) is sold for as high as N300 a litre in some areas while the price of diesel has also risen to N650 a litre.

Although the long queues witnessed weeks ago have reduced, Daily Trust investigation revealed that the border communities in Lagos State are still struggling to get the product.

It was observed that some filling stations were hoarding petrol, thereby creating artificial scarcity along the Mile 2-Badagry expressway. Most filling stations around the area are selling at far above the approved pump price.

The investigation showed that a litre of petrol sells for N200 at Mobil filling station opposite Federal Government College, Ijanikin, but Total at Cele bus stop, and opposite Foreign Mission School, Aiyetoro also at Ijanikin, sell the product at the government-approved price.

However, it was observed that the filling station attendants at both filling stations demand N200 to N300 from drivers for the sale.

Daily Trust also learnt that the product is being smuggled out of the country, especially by both retired and serving security operatives through Seme and Idiroko borders.

It could be recalled that the Acting Controller of the Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone A, Ikeja, Hussein Kehinde Ejibunu, said the unit intercepted 36,575 litres of petrol from some smugglers at Igbo Iberu, a riverine community in Ogun State.

Similarly, the Controller, Seme Area Command, Bello Jibo, said officers while on a routine patrol along the creeks within Seme and Badagry intercepted large quantities of petroleum products stored in jerricans covered with sacks.

Residents of border communities in Ogun State are lamenting the impact of the current fuel scarcity as a litre of petrol is sold for N350 a litre in the area.

Daily Trust gathered that the ban on the sale of fuel in communities within 20km of the borders has compounded the fuel crisis in the area.

Findings by Daily Trust revealed that residents of the border areas who have been patronising the black market have been buying petrol at the rate of N350 per litre.

Those who spoke with our correspondent said the recent scarcity has compounded the fuel crisis in that part of the state.

A community leader in Iwoye Ketu in Imeko-Afon LG, Ahmed Ismaila said “We now buy a litre of fuel at N350 a litre. Before it was N250. That is a N100 increase.

“You know they have stopped supplying fuel to stations in these areas, so those selling it are more or less smuggling it.”

Also speaking, a cleric based at Idiroko, Imam Omo-Akin, confirmed that a litre of petrol is sold for N350 at the border communities.

He lamented that the border closure has “adversely affected the economic activities of the people.”


Everyone is selling fuel now in Idiroko despite risks

He said many residents of the areas have been indulging in black market dealing of fuel as an alternative business.

“As I am talking to you, God forbid, there must not be any incident of fire at Idiroko, everywhere will be consumed. Almost everyone is selling fuel now at Idiroko.

“Almost 90 per cent of those residing in Idiroko sell fuel. It involves a lot of risks. Many vehicles and bikes have been burnt,” he said

Daily Trust also learnt that most consignments meant for the sunshine state capital and other towns were diverted to neighbouring communities.

A taxi driver who gave his name only as Ojo said he had to go to Ijare, a neighbouring town to Akure where a litre was being sold for N220 a litre.

According to him, that was the consignment diverted from Akure. He said drivers who did not want to queue bought at N220 per litre

In the Akoko area of the state, where fuel dealers were selling at N250 and above per litre, they have complied with government directive which prohibits sale after 7pm.

However, roadside and black market dealers selling at exorbitant rates have now disappeared from circulation along Semusemu, Jubilee axis of Ikare Akoko.

Trailers of petrol were discharged at three different filling stations in Ikare, Ugbe and Arigidi three days ago while long queues were not noticed because a popular filling station along Hospital Road, Ikare sold at official price thereby reducing the hardship.


Bans of roadside sale of petroleum products by Katsina govt not working  

At Kwangwalam, a border community in Mai’adua Local Government Area of Katsina State, a litre of petrol is sold at N250 to N260 according to a resident, Hamza Abdullahi.

Abdullahi said a litre is sold at N400 at the black market (roadside), adding that a 4-litre gallon is sold for N1,550 to N1,600 by the roadside marketers.

The situation is the same at Jibia town, also a border community in the state.

A resident, Muhammadu Rabiu Jibia, said a litre of petrol is sold at N260 at the filling stations while the roadside markets sold at N400 per litre.

He said many people patronise the roadside sellers due to the long queues at filling stations.

“Sometimes you spend the whole day at the filling station without getting fuel. So people that are in a hurry could not afford to queue at filling stations.”

Recall that in Katsina, selling petroleum products by the roadside has been banned by the state government because of the activities of banditry.


Smuggling to Cameroon worsens fuel crisis in Adamawa border communities 

Residents have complained that the ban on the sale of petrol is compounding the current fuel scarcity in border areas, causing an increase in prices.

In some areas affected by the Boko Haram insurgency, a litre of petrol sells for as much as N500 due to tougher restrictions by military authorities.

Locals reported that in Gulak and Mildo communities in Madagali Local Area which was controlled by Boko Haram in 2014, petrol sells at between N400 and N500 per litre.

A resident of Gurin, a border town in Fufore Local Government Area, Dahiru Gurin, said the black marketers have been the only source of fuel in the area since the shutdown of all four petrol stations in the town by the authorities some years ago.

He said the hawkers travelled 25 to 50 kilometres to purchase fuel to sell in the town and surrounding villages at between N270 to N300 per litre.

A petrol black marketer in Mubi, Dauda Maimai, said he bought petrol at N260 from the independent marketers in Mubi and sold at N320 per litre.

“Only a few filling stations sell to consumers in long queues. We buy at N260 from the filling stations and sell at N320 per litre in Mubi. A gallon is N1,300 while in the villages a litre is N350 and a gallon is N1400.”

“Wallahi, the fuel is being diverted. The only station in Mubi where it is cheap and doesn’t sell in gallons is AY Shafa Filling Station which sells at N165 per litre’, the black marketer said.

A student, Habu Bara lamented that the situation has led to the sharp increase in prices of commodities and services thereby causing untold hardship on the populace, saying tricycle operators have jerked transport fares from N50 to N80 in Mubi metropolis.

A community leader in Mubi South Area, Dr Ibrahim Kwaja, said hoarding and smuggling across the border are prevalent as smugglers take advantage of the higher prices in Cameroon.

Spokesman of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Adamawa State Dimas Yakubu said the command was working with other agencies to stop smuggling along the border.

From Eugene Agha (Lagos), Peter Moses (Abeokuta), Bola Ojuola (Akure), Tijjani Ibrahim (Katsina) & Kabiru R. Anwar (Yola)  

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