Commuters in Anambra State had a hectic time going to their various destinations as commercial transport operators hiked transport fares by over 100 per cent as a result of fuel scarcity that hit major cities across the state on Wednesday. AnambraPeople reports.
This is just as the price of Premium Motor Spirit otherwise known as petrol went as high as N1,200 per litre on the black market as motorists resorted to panic buying as most filling stations remained shut and not dispensing the product.
The development caused a lot of unease both within the transportation and commercial sectors across the state as residents complained about the development.
Although, the real cause of the fuel scarcity could not be immediately ascertained, it was gathered that an emergency meeting that was being held in Awka by the petroleum marketers across the state on Wednesday heightened tension as motorists and other users of the product speculated that the meeting might have been called to discuss an increase of the fuel pump price.
It was gathered that while most of the filling stations within the metropolis in major cities such as Onitsha, Nnewi, Ekwulobia, Nkpor and Awka, had shut their doors since Monday in anticipation of the new price regime, leaving only the black market operators to be selling the product as exorbitant prices.
Many motorists hiked their fares as a result of the development, it was observed that a journey of N200 went as much as N400 while that of N300 became N600 as the case may be, a situation which caused most residents of the state who were taking unawares to resort to trekking while commercial activities were also partially affected.
A commercial bus operator in Onitsha, who is also the Secretary, Bus Drivers Association, Chidi Okeke, said, “I bought the product for N700 per litre this morning at Asaba as no filling station has opened in Onitsha today. We learnt that all the marketers are holding a meeting somewhere and we don’t know if the meeting is to increase their price or not.
“No filling station is selling fuel in Onitsha and the black marketers who are selling have hiked the prices. That was why I went to Asaba to buy fuel. This is terrible. We don’t know what tomorrow will look like, if the situation continues like this tomorrow, we will have to park our vehicles as all the profits we are making now goes to fuel.”
A commuter and a civil servant based in Nnewi, Grace Oma, said, “Getting a vehicle has been hectic today. The few vehicles available have almost tripled their fares and it is unexpected. Yesterday, I paid N800 to Awka, but today, they are charging almost N2,000.”
However, reacting to the development, the Chairman, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, in charge of the Enugu depot covering six states, including Anambra, Mr Chinedu Anyaso, urged the people not to panic.
Anyaso said the shutting down of filling stations was not intended to cause any harm or to further increase the pump price of petrol as being widely speculated across the state, but to ensure that all its members comply in attending an emergency general meeting scheduled in Awka.
He said, “The emergency meeting was to deliberate on the recent marking of about 16 filling stations in Ekwulobia, to give way for the construction of a proposed flyover in the town.
“16 filling stations were marked for demolition in Ekwulobia axis by the Anambra State government to give way for the proposed construction of a flyover and adjourning roads in the area.
“Our members are willing to comply, there is a need for the government to reach an agreement with them as regards compensation because the facilities are the only source of income to the owners.
“We have written to the Anambra State government over the development, but was yet to receive a reply, hence the meeting, was called to discuss how to further engage for the overall interest of its members and the motoring public.”