Mega cities in the world usually have their pleasant packages of yuletide seasons. The glamorous Christmas trees with slings of music all over them, the shiny and sparkly Christmas lights on the streets, the usual Christmas jingles spiriting the streets and the ever lively street lights all signalling it’s Christmas.
But this is not the case in Lagos, the centre of excellence, as residents are facing hard times, following the fuel scarcity rocking the nation. The situation has not only crippled economic activities in the state, but also inflicted untold hardship on residents of the state.
While the prices of goods have notched up, there is also increase in transport fares, leaving those who planned visiting their loved ones in far-away places shattered and hopeless.
It would be recalled that the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) had recently threatened a nationwide strike, over the sack of workers by Neconde Energy Services Ltd, but shelved the proposed strike after intervention by the Federal Government.
This, however, has not resolved the scarcity of fuel across the country. Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Maikanti Baru, last Thursday pinned the blame on oil marketers, saying they were hoarding the product.
As parts of efforts to nip the dearth of fuel in the bud, the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR in Lagos, had mandated some filling stations hoarding petrol in the state, to dispense the product, but it seems none of these measures are capable of abating the situation.
With few days to Christmas, some of the residents who spoke with New Telegraph narrated their harrowing experiences during the festive period, as a result of the fuel crisis rocking the nation.
According to Alhaja Memunat, a trader in Iyana Ipaja, this year’s Christmas celebration has not been as those of the past. “Though I’m not a Christian, this season in previous years is always a time of celebration. We made more profits, the city is less- congested but there is gridlock everywhere because of this fuel scarcity”
Aside recorded low sales, Memunat decried the skyrocketing costs of transportation in the state, noting that she now spends huge amount to transport herself from her stall to her house, unlike before.
Corroborating Memunat’s view, Mrs. Uche Okonkwo, who is also a trader, stated that things are not looking like a festive period in Lagos at the moment as a result of scarcity of fuel.
She said: “I can’t believe we are in Christmas period. When people tell me it’s Christmas, I laugh it off because the situation does not mirror that claim. You can’t believe that before now, I make up to N50, 000 daily or even more sometimes. But now that Christmas is here, I struggle to make N10,000.
“I am appealing to government to quickly address the situation. We, the ordinary citizens are the ones suffering it most. This is a period when parents are expected to show love to their children by buying them good clothes, shoes and other gifts. But how possible is that going to be now?”
Also speaking, Mrs. Yewande Ogunwunmi, a bank official bemoaned the long queues in the various filling stations across the state, stressing that the situation has affected her negatively.
Recounting her ordeals, she said: “I can’t just stay on the queue. I do not go with my vehicle to the office anymore. You will struggle before you get the fuel and now burn it all in traffic. I prefer the commercial buses for now. Though they have increased their transport fare but it is still manageable”
On how the situation has affected the mood the of this year’s festive season, Yewande pointed out that the celebration so far had not been how it used to be but she believed that things would get better soonest.
In the same vein, Ajoke Tanimowo, A 14 year-old secondary school student revealed that this year’s Christmas has not been how it ought to be, blaming it all on the fuel crisis.
Similarly, Mr. Adeniran Balogun, a father of four, lamented that the dearth of fuel in the state has cost them the mood of the Christmas. “Because of this scarcity, I have told my children to always put off the generator by 9 pm for now. Three hours of usage is enough,” he said.
According to New Telegraph observation, the fuel scarcity is biting harder especially as transportation fare has skyrocketed up. A distance that usually cost N50 has gone up to N150 and a distance of N100 has gone up to N300. For instance, from Berger to Ojota axis now cost N300 as against the former N100, and from Berger to Ikeja, it is also N300 instead of N100. Commuters, pathetically pregnant women and mothers with babies strapped to their backs, were seen stranded at bus stops and several people were seen clutching jerry cans of sorts across the city of Lagos.
At different filling stations, both adults and young were seen on long queues. While some were patient and pushing quietly under the scorching sun, some were fighting for space and shoving their jerry cans forward. New Telegraph also observed that black marketers had field days of the scarcity. A 30-litre of fuel sold for N13,000, 20-litres sold for N9,000 and five-litre sold N2,500. Those who could not put up with the stress of the scarcity, opted for the black market.
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