Fuel queues resurfaced on May 29, after President Bola Ahmed Tinubu declared that “fuel subsidy is gone” in his inaugural address.
In the two days since his declaration, citizens have been thrown into limbo. Fuel stations have shut down, and those that remain open contend with unending queues.
Black market vendors took over fuel distribution at prices almost three times the official N185 pump price.
At around 11 am however, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) fuel stations across Lagos State reviewed their pump prices to N488, making ‘almost three times the price’ the official price.
‘IF THEY SELL AT N400, TRANSPORT FARE WILL BE N400‘
Transportation prices have already begun to soar. Lucky, a driver plying the Ikeja-Berger road, charged N400 per person for a trip after passengers contested his N500 price.
He said he had bought fuel at N400 a litre in Mowe, which was why he charged N400.
“If they sell at N400, transport fare will be N400; if it is N500, it will be N500; and if it is N1,000, transport fare will be N1,000. Just like that,” Lucky had told me.
This was at least an hour before the pump price review, and in those hours before the prices were reviewed, many Lagosians stayed in fuel station queues for hours waiting to buy fuel at N185. They waited, despite the gates being locked, for whenever the fuel stations would start selling.
At AP filling station along Ikorodu Road, a driver said he had been waiting since before 6 am.
“Since I arrived, they haven’t sold for anyone, but we are hoping,” he said before echoing “Renewed Hope”, Tinubu’s presidential campaign slogan.
It was around 8 am, when I met him, and he said he had dedicated his entire day to buying fuel.
“If I don’t wait to buy at N185 here, then it is N500 from the black market, and I don’t have that money,” he said.
Just after AP, at TotalEnergies fuel station, a young man on the vehicle queue said he had been waiting since 5 am and they had yet to open their gates for those outside.
Vehicles and kegs were already lined up in the fuel station, waiting to buy fuel. The car owner still waiting his turn outside the fuel station said those inside must have come way earlier or stayed overnight.
Meanwhile, at Conoil fuel station, still along Ikorodu Road, commercial drivers and residents waiting in line to buy fuel said the manager had assured them that they would start selling as soon as he arranged for security to secure the fuel station premises. According to them, this was to prevent thugs and black market vendors from disrupting sales to ordinary people.
A few hours later, the discourse had begun to change.
“Manager don already talk am, say as we start to sell, na from N488,” a staff at BOVAS fuel station, along the Ojodu area of the state, said at about noon.
BOVAS last sold fuel for N185 on Tuesday and planned to sell it for N488 when it resumed sales later in the day.
Moving forward from BOVAS, at NNPC fuel station, the queue was endless, and pump prices had already changed. All those who were yet to purchase before pump prices were adjusted now waited to buy at N488.
“It shows you how things can change in just a matter of hours,” David, who stood next to the filling station, said.
“I bought fuel for N185 only a few hours ago here. Now, it is N488. Some people who were in the queue with me but far behind will buy for N488.”
Another bystander at the NNPC filling station, Emmanuel, said he also bought fuel for N185 but that since the prices had been reviewed, the queues would reduce and fuel stations would reopen.
“They closed because they were waiting for the updated prices; now that NNPC is selling for N488, they will also start selling, and the queues will reduce.”
“It’s easy to go on social media and say it is a good idea to remove subsidies, and people should be patient because it is only a momentary difficulty for a greater good. But in real life, people are suffering. What are we being patient for, and for how long?” Hassan, who had parked his car outside BOVAS fuel station, asked.
Hassan wondered why the people should trust the government’s word that this was for a greater good when they had no plan in place to ease people into the policy.
Meanwhile, in an official statement, the NNPC revealed that it had adjusted the pump prices of PMS across their retail outlets in line with current market realities, adding that the prices would continue to fluctuate to reflect market dynamics.
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