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One man’s meat is another man’s poison. So it is with Kano fuel queues

This is evident by the holdup often experienced on major roads where petrol stations are located as motorists most often have to take longer routes…

This is evident by the holdup often experienced on major roads where petrol stations are located as motorists most often have to take longer routes where possible or longer periods before passing such petrol stations. Example of such roads overtaken by the said fuel queues are Zaria Road by Gyadi-Gyadi roundabout which is a major road linking Kano with Zaria, Kaduna and beyond. Others are Hadejia road bypass by NNPC mega station roundabout, Bompai road, Murtala Mohammed Way, opposite Kano Club, Club road, Kabuga Junction along new BUK road among others.

What remains peculiar with these roads is the delay road users experience when passing through them. On this, Pyramid Trust went round to interview the road users and managers of petrol stations. Aisha Ibrahim Umar is a motorist who usually passes through Bompai road to and fro her work place on a daily basis. She told our reporter how frustrating the traffic holdup can be.

She said, “it is really unfortunate that we are experiencing this unnecessary delay as a result of fuel queues. I just wonder why people are so selfish and unrealistic. This is a situation that could be regulated but it seems we have no laws in this state and therefore, everyone does just what he feels like doing even at the detriment of all other citizens. Just imagine how the road is blocked because some few people want to buy and sell fuel. I say few people because no matter the long queues seen at the petrol stations, the number of cars on the queue cannot be compared with the number of road users who are delayed unnecessarily due to the fuel queues. The situation is too bad and frustrating.”

She continues, “just imagine, I close from work at 5.00pm daily and ordinarily, I should be home by 5.30 but due to the traffic ‘ go-slow’ caused by the fuel queues, it takes me a longer time before reaching home, sometimes even more than an hour because of the delay. This is really bad and needs to be addressed.”

Alhaji Usman Ibrahim frequents Zaria road and had this to say, “It is unfortunate that a major road like Zaria road is being overtaken by fuel queues. It is in most cases, the cause of traffic jam and sometimes, even accidents. It is really unfair and unfortunate that we are facing this unnecessary hardship.”

Fati Shetima also expressed displeasure over the way larger parts of major roads are being occupied by fuel queues. She said, “The way the roads are being occupied by fuel queues results to so many inconveniences on road users and this is very bad. We are being subjected to punishment we don’t deserve.”

She added, “Take for instance, after a long day at work and just when one is rushing home, he runs into unnecessary traffic jams just because people are queuing up for fuel. This is punishment that people do not deserve and therefore, needs to be addressed.”

Usman Abu also spoke on the issue. He attributed the problem to activities of thugs operating at the petrol stations as well as the management of such stations saying, they have failed to control the situation.

Abu said, “I blame the management of the filling stations for allowing thugs to overtake the roads not minding the implication of doing so on other road users. The situation is simply caused by impatient people who connive with thugs at the filling stations to be served with the fuel before those that took their time to queue, it’s a typical way things are being done in this country, and people don’t just care.

“Just imagine a busy road like Zaria road being blocked just because some thugs form illegal queues for those impatient motorists who feel they cannot simply join the queue in an orderly manner and worst of it is the management of such petrol stations have failed to address the issue despite its consequences on the society.”

However, responding to the claim by some road users that thugs are the ones responsible for the problem, one of the thugs popularly called Audu Kura, said the token they get from forming such queues was one of the ways they earn a living.

According to Kura, “we actually have to form what we call ‘layin alfarma,’ because that is the only way through which we get something we survive on. Anyone who joins such queue can be sure of getting the fuel before those who spent a long time on the actual queue but that is certainly for a fee. Before they are even allowed into the petrol station, they pay some amount to us at the gate so people should please bear with us as we are not forming such lines with the intention of creating traffic jam. We apologise to road users for the inconveniences but they should, at the same time, understand that man has to survive.”

One of the fuel station managers who pleaded anonymity, said the station managements may find it very difficult to operate without the thugs because they help  maintain order at the filling stations.

He said, “I don’t think there is any filling station, even the NNPC-owned in this country, that can operate without these thugs. They are very useful in running a fuel station and this is because controlling the many cars that queue up to buy fuel especially when the fuel is scarce, is not an easy task. Therefore, they are the only ones who can best handle our people.”

On the issue of overtaking greater parts of the roads with such queues, the station manager said, “I know it is not fair for fuel queues to take over the road but what is the reality is that when fuel stations become overcrowded, it is very difficult for anyone to control the crowd and therefore, desperate motorists don’t mind queuing up on the roads.”

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