Week-long fuel scarcity hits oil-rich Nigeria

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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.

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