A week-long petrol scarcity is fraying nerves in oil-producing Nigeria as gas stations run out of stock, causing long queues of motorists in major cities.
The fuel shortage started last week in the commercial city of Lagos and administrative capital Abuja with few petrol stations selling the product.
The state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) blamed the situation on importation of adulterated petrol by four oil marketers into the country.
Long lines formed at fuel stations causing traffic jams in parts of Lagos on Tuesday as shortages persisted and drivers hunted for petrol.
Lawyer Shade Adisa said she had been on the line at a service station on Lagos Island since 4:00 am.
“I woke up very early to fill my tank. But with what am seeing here now, I don’t think it will get to my turn before 8:00 am,” she said, looking tired and hopeless.
The NNPC has promised to recall the bad fuel from the market, sanction the importers as well as beef up supplies to dispensing stations.
Car owners and motorists have complained that the bad fuel has damaged their vehicles.
Nigeria, Africa’s biggest crude producer, depends on imports to meet local demand as its four refineries are either not working at all or operating below their installed capacity.
Black market operators now make brisk business as a litre of fuel sells for around 500 naira (one dollar) as against 162 at the pump.
Walking to work
Transport fares have gone up in several cities, curtailing services and forcing some residents and workers to walk long distances to their destinations.
“It’s been tough getting to work these days. I used to spend 1,500 naira daily on transport but since the scarcity began, I have been spending more than 2,000 naira,” said Gafaru Adebayo.
The 45-year-old Lagos civil servant also said the fuel situation was affecting his finances.
“Even at home, I now have to double my spending on diesel to power my generator.”
Most homes in Nigeria rely on petrol and diesel to power their generators as the public power supply is unreliable and prone to blackouts.
It was the same story in Abuja and neighboring Nasarawa state as many gas stations remained shut on Tuesday.
There were long queues of vehicles at the few gas stations that were selling while many workers were stranded at bus stops, an AFP correspondent said.
Oil marketers said a few outlets were still trying to return the adulterated petrol supplied to them since last week.
That had prevented the affected stations from taking in uncontaminated products, as they currently lacked space to store new consignments, they said.
Petrol is sold below market rate in Nigeria as part of measures to make it affordable, but the IMF and the World Bank have advised Nigeria to stop the so-called fuel subsidy scheme to free resources for development.
Nigeria has a daily output of some two million barrels of crude.
The oil industry has suffered several decades of corruption, mismanagement and inefficiency, prompting calls for an overhaul. A new industry law aimed at reforming the sector was recently passed by parliament.