By Lucy Ogalue
Some commuters in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), have decried increase in transportation fares due to fuel scarcity, making movement in the territory difficult.
The commuters told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday that their greatest challenge was finding commercial vehicles to their destinations, especially to their places of business or work.
They said this might be because most of the taxi drivers were either on the long queues in petrol stations or were off the road due to no petrol.
They therefore called on the authorities concerned to speedily intervene to bring the situation back to normal as many Nigerians were suffering.
Mr Calistus Emeka, who lives around Mararaba axis, said he had to pay N400 from his area to Wuse area, instead of N200.
Emeka said as a cleaner, working at the Secretariat, his salary was meager and he could barely afford to continue to pay the increased fare.
According to him, if nothing is done soon, he may not be able to go to work in the coming days.
Mr Gabriel Oko, who also lives along the Mararaba axis, said he had to stand by the road side for hours to get a vehicle to work
Oko said: “Before getting to town from my area, I stood for hours waiting to get a taxi and could not find one, I had to take a bike to a certain point before getting a taxi.
“This situation is very pathetic, even with your money, you cannot get a vehicle to convey you to your destination. I just pray this does not linger for a long time.”
Ms Agatha Sule, who lives along the Gwagwalada axis, said she used to pay N400 to Area 1, but due to the lack of fuel situation, she paid N700 to town.
“I know there is fuel scarcity in town but I was not prepared for the increased cost of transportation.
“I work as a secretary in my office. If not for the fact that I have my office keys with me, I would not have gone to work today.
“This increase is just too much. How do they expect very low income earners like us to survive?
“The problem is that we are the ones even feeling this pain more.”
Mrs Lucy James, another commuter, said she paid N350 from Apo axis to Wuse unlike the usual fare of N250.
James prayed that relevant authorities would intervene, saying this was posing a great challenge for many Nigerians.
Another passenger who lives in Kubwa/Dutse axis, Theophilus Ada, said the cost of transportation to town had also doubled within the past two days.
In a similar vein, Mrs Joy Benjamin, a Civil Servant, said she was forced to buy 10 litres of fuel from black market at N5,000 to get to work.
Benjamin said she had to do that because many fuel stations were not selling the product and the ones selling had very long queues and she did not have time to wait.
Meanwhile, some motorists who spoke with NAN, revealed that some major fuel stations preferred to sell the product to black marketers who paid them extra money to get it.
According to Mr Maurice Nze, the attendants have taken advantage of the situation to hide the fuel in the morning time, only to dispense it at night to black marketers.
“A good number of filling stations are hoarding their products in the day time, but sell it at night to make more gains, this act has contributed to the suffering we are now witnessing.
“I want to appeal to the government to set up a taskforce to check activities of some of these filling stations both during the day and at night,” Nze appealed.
A taxi driver, Mr Rufus Nwafor said he spent close to three hours at the station to get fuel.
According to Rufus, the scarcity is really affecting their business because even after spending so much time at the station to get fuel, passengers find it difficult to pay.
“We have increased the fare, not because the price has changed at the station but because of the time we spend trying to get the fuel.
“We are not happy increasing the fare but we have to find a way to make up for the time wasted trying to get fuel.”
Another taxi driver, Mr Bolanle Segun said he had to buy black market this morning because he could not get fuel at the station.
Segun said: “This day I do not force anybody to enter my vehicle, if I tell you the price and you are not ready to pay, I will not carry you.
“This is because we spend hours trying to get fuel and today, just when it was close to my turn to buy, the attendant said the fuel has finished.
“I had to go and buy from black market along the road side because my tank was empty.’’
NAN reports that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Ltd. (NNPC) on Tuesday said it distributed one billion litres of safe Premium Motor Spirit to various fuel stations nationwide.
The NNPC also noted that 2.3 billion litres of PMS will arrive Nigeria before the end of February to address the current situation and restore sufficiency. (NAN)