The downstream end of the Nigerian petroleum industry has gone into a frenzy as operators respond to the immediate removal of subsidy on petrol with a sharp hike in pump price just as consumers crowded to the petrol stations.
Commercial transporters have also hiked their trip fares across the country in response to the developments.
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On his inaugural speech yesterday, the new president, Bola Tinubu, had stated that “petroleum subsidy is gone”.
Checks by Vanguard in Lagos showed that some marketers responded by increasing their prices by about 100 percent to N370 from N185 per litre.
However, few other stations especially the major marketers, sold between N195 and N220 per litre across Lagos and Abuja.
Our findings also showed that some of the petrol stations operators simply shut their filling stations, thus leading to the emergence of long queues.
This is even as depot owners shut their operations, arguing that further clarification was needed to guide activities on the implementation of the new order.
In Abuja, long queues re-emerged at petrol stations as motorists reacted to the removal of subsidy on petrol.
Transporters hike fares
Meanwhile, commuters were seen stranded at various bus stops waiting to board commercial bus which may have been trapped in the frenzy that greeted the petrol subsidy removal.
Few of the buses that were on the road for business hiked the fares between 50 and 100 per cent over fear of impending scarcity.
One of the motorists, wearing a long face, who spoke with this reporter at one of the fuel stations selling petrol, lamented, “Why would Tinubu start on this note to punish the already depressed, impoverished Nigerians inflicted by the out-gone administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“This is absolutely unfair to Nigerians. When I heard that Tinubu has directed the removal of oil subsidy, I had to rush down here to fill my tank and some jerry cans for my power generating set.”
Also, Mr John Akinloye, a motorist along the Agege area, said, “I was not surprised to see queues at the fuel stations after the announcement. I just pray this sad and unfortunate development will not last so as not to put suffering masses in another round of economic and mental torture.
“I have been at the fuel station for over an hour, and am yet to get to the fuel pump point. Even the fuel attendants are not willing to sell more than N3,000 per buyer. If you want to buy N4,000 they are refusing.”
At Conoil and Adova Petroleum stations located in Karu area of the nation’s capital, long queues were observed with stations selling at N195 per litre.
At petrol stations operated by independent marketers, pump price was hiked to between N315 and N370 per litre with the topmost price range recorded in other parts of the country outside Lagos and Abuja.
The situation, it was gathered might worsen in the coming days as workers and business owners return to work today after the holiday declared for the inauguration of the new president.
Meanwhile, most stakeholders who spoke to Vanguard on the development believed that the subsidy removal was a right step.
Fuel subsidy removal , long overdue — MD, 11 Plc
Immediate past chairman, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN, who doubles as the Managing Director, 11PLC, Adetunji Oyebanji, said: “This is a welcome development. The country is bleeding every day and we are getting to a stage where if we are not careful all our revenue will be going into world-serving debt and going into the subsidy, which means we have no money left to do any other thing to pay salaries.
“The people kicking against this interest will end up suffering even more. The amount of money spent on this subsidy has been documented in so many different foray, different places, people have talked about it over the years and to make matters worse a lot of it is going towards subsiding other companies in Africa, hence it has to go.”
Oyebanji, who noted that the fuel subsidy removal was long overdue, said: “I have been an advocate of the removal of fuel subsidy because it is not benefiting the ordinary man but rather the elite who drive cars. So, I was pleased with the planned removal.”
Similarly, the Lead Promoter, EnergyHub Nigeria, Prof. Felix Amieyeofori, said: “This is a welcome development for the oil and gas industry. We support it because it is only benefiting the elites. Government should direct the subsidy to other strategic economic programmes. We cannot borrow to pay subsidy.”
But National President, Oil and Gas Service Providers Association of Nigeria, Mazi Colman Obasi, who described fuel subsidy as a cheap way of making money, said: “We have heard that before. It is said that’s easier said than done. Anything that would remove cheap money can be resisted. Fuel subsidy is one of such cheap monies. I have read the speech it sounds nice. I cannot remember the last inaugural presidential speech that the promises and hopes were implemented the way it was spoken in the history of Nigeria. Let us wait and see.”