Deltans Decry Fuel Price Hike

BY ANDREW IKEHI /RUTH OKWUMBU WITH AGENCY REPORT
The lingering fuel crisis in the country has assumed frightening dimension as the various sectors of the nation’s economy are on the verge of collapse.
This is coming as the different sectors, particularly telecommunication giants in the country, banking and aviation sectors among others, have threatened to shut down their operations should the situation remain unchecked.
Besides, the micro and small entrepreneurs in the country, particularly in Delta State are experiencing the bitter taste of the crisis as business activities have literarily remained standstill.
The scarcity of petroleum product which began barely a month ago across the country has assumed frightening dimension as Premium Motor Spirit, (PMS) otherwise called petrol, now sells between N200 and N250 per litre in Delta State as against the approved N87 per litre of the product.
A survey by our reporters reveals that hundreds of commuters in the state were yesterday stranded as there were few commercial vehicles plying the roads, just as several vehicle owners spent several hours at petrol stations in a bid to procure the product.
The survey further reveals that most of the filling stations claim that they do not have the product while others who perhaps have the product and opened their gates for business, were only interested in dispensing the product to ‘black market’ operators who, in the long run, were ready to part with some gratifications.
According to the survey which was carried out in Asaba, the state capital, Agbor, Issele-uku, Warri and Ughelli, a litre of the product at the various black markets goes between N300 and N350 per litre.
Meanwhile, Deltans have decried the sudden hike in fuel price, with a call on the government to address the situation which has made life for the common man unbearable.
A survey conducted by The POINTER, showed that from the last hours of Saturday, most filling stations were already selling fuel at the rate of N250 per liter, but by Sunday afternoon, the commodity was already being sold at N300 per liter. However, as at the time of compiling the report, some filling stations were selling at the rate of N200 per liter, while a few others sold at N250 per liter.
A cross section of the residents of Asaba, who spoke to the POINTER, observed that the increase in fuel price had affected all other commodities, as most economic activities are influenced by the price of fuel, due to inconsistent power supply.
One of them, who deals in recharge cards, Mr. Patrick Okoh, lamented that the increase in fuel price had greatly reduced his profit margin. According to him, he spends more on fuel now to print the recharge cards, with no means of recouping the money since he is not allowed to arbitrarily increase the unit price.
“The fuel price has increased over a 100 per cent since Saturday, and my customers still expect to buy at the same price. The man who sells to me has already started printing Airtel N500 airtime on paper instead of scratch card, just to find a way to make up for the loss, and he has said that he would soon do the same with MTN N750 airtime”, he narrated.
A keke rider, who operates from Koka junction to Ibusa junction, also told the POINTER, that the distance which normally goes for N50 is now N70 or N80. According to the man who gave his name as Sunny, the keke riders unanimously reached the decision and have followed it strictly since Sunday morning. “There is no way we can buy fuel at N300 or N250 per liter, and still carry any drop for N30. Instead of me to carry anybody for N30, I go park my keke for house” he stressed.
Following the development, some of the commercial banks in the country have in Short Message Service (SMS) forwarded to their numerous customers in the country said that their services will henceforth end by noon as long as the fuel crisis lingers.
It would be recalled that following the lingering fuel scarcity, mobile phone operators in the country at the weekend warned that networks would be short down should the fuel crisis persists.

The warning came from telecom giants like MTN and AIRTEL as they noted that following the scarcity of petroleum product, it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to replenish the current stock of diesel just as they explained that the situation is also impacting negatively on their networks.