Residents of Owerri, the Imo State capital, have been badly hit by the recent scarcity of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also called petrol and its resultant increase in the pump price of the product.
Many Imolites are lamenting how the rising price of fuel (petrol) is creating ripple effects on the cost of other essential needs, such as food, transportation, clothing, among others.
During visit to some filling stations on Thursday, it gathered that the product was sold between N350 and N400 per litre as against the official pump price of N185.
The development has brought untold hardship to residents who are now appealing to the relevant authorities to address the problem.
A foodstuff seller at Eke-Ukwu Owerri market, Ogechi Iwu told Newsextra24 that she watched her customers grapple with escalating prices over the past months.
“Rice, garri, onions, noodles, everything has risen in price. Some have more than doubled, others have jumped by various percentages due to high cost of transportation caused by fuel hike,” she said.
Some motorists narrated how filling stations within the State have continued to hoard the products, making the situation tougher for residents.
A commercial bus driver, Chijioke Aneke said black market operators around Egbu road, among others, hawk and dangle the product at almost every corner at a very high price.
One litre of petrol is sold for as high as N600,” he lamented.
A commercial taxi driver, Emeka Chijindu said the hike in fare was completely inevitable, stressing “We buy petrol at N350/litre, some places, N400/litre.”
He said new tyres that were N7,000 are now N35, 000. I can go on. If we don’t increase transport fares, it’s simple pure business suicide.”
He said they were much bothered about availability of fuel for purchase than the price increase.
“We are all managing to survive. We feel commuters’ pains but we can’t help it. It’s the country we found ourselves in,” he said.
Other residents took a serious swipe at the Federal Government, accusing it of plunging Nigerians into abject poverty.
Chizy Onyeocha, a student of Alvan Ikoku College of Education, expressed dissatisfaction regarding the hike in fuel pump price stating that “after ASUU went on strike which affected all public universities, we are now faced with fuel price and scarcity; how are students expected to survive?”
She condemned the sharp increment in petrol prices, saying it’s another devastating moment for the welfare of Nigerian students, which in turn affects their academic activities.
She said, “I live a bit far from the school, around Akwakuma junction but before I can get to school I need to take a bus of N150 which was initially N50. It now costs nothing less than N300 in a day. I don’t have any more savings,” she lamented.
Also, a Mass Communication student of Imo State University, Daniel Chukwuyere said some students are selective in attending lectures since the cost of transportation is becoming unbearable and they have no option.
Chukwuyere urged the government to do something about it before it gets out of hand.
A trader, Ngozi Okwara grumbled that the situation led to a hike in the cost of transportation.
She explained that “from Akwakuma Bus Stop to the new market was N100. Now, we pay N200. To bring back the goods to my shop with a drop, from the bush market, used to cost me about N3,500 to N5,500 some months ago. Now, I pay as much as N8,500 for the same quantity of goods.”
She further said, “When we complain, the drivers blame it on the increase in fuel price. To recoup what I spent bringing the goods from the market, I adjusted the prices of my wares as well. I slightly increased the price of every item so that I can make a profit.”
Reacting to the ugly development, the Imo State Chairman of Independent Petroleum Marketers’ Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, Dr. Chidiebere Okoroafor, who spoke through the phone, said It’s a national issue which is not peculiar to Imo State alone.
While appealing for calm he said, “Everybody should take things easy, let’s see how we can manage the situation in a few months’ time.
“I appeal to the FG to ensure our refineries come back. They have promised us severally that they will start functioning soon, once the refineries are functional, all this anomaly will stop.
“I’m speaking to you from Abuja, you need to see the queue because it’s not something that has to do with Imo State alone. These people have promised us that they will bring in more products and supply will improve, let’s see how it goes. It’s not a permanent situation. I want to use this platform to appeal to Imo people to please endure for a while.”