By; Patrick Titus, Uyo.
In the past few months, residents of Akwa Ibom state were managing to survive the current hard economic realities in the country but the scenario is taking a toll on the people’s life this week as pump price of premium motor spirit (petrol) skyrocketed.
Some car owners and users have adjusted to public means of transportation, even as some complained to have parked their cars at mega stations in expectation of fuel to buy, as whatever was left in the tank could not take them home.
Prices of public transportation on the other hand has equally skyrocketed, distances of N30 have now been increased to between N70 and N100, even as number of commercial taxis and tricycles have equally reduced due to scarcity of the already expensive petroleum products.
Similarly, the numbers of vehicles plying roads in Uyo, the state capital have also reduced drastically due to the high cost of petrol.
A cross section of motorists who commented on the development as sad, however expressed optimism that availability of the product would reduce the stress on the suffering masses. Blaming the intensity of the situation on greedy marketers who would halt sales of the product to hike the price, they called on government regulatory agencies to rise to the challenges and save the people from further hardship.
Mr. Okon Akpan, a tricycle (keke) operator who also spoke on the issue said life was becoming quite difficult for him as he has not been able to make expected returns to the owner of the tricycle. According to him, the present administration is not doing well at all. Apparently have no interest of the ordinary Nigerians at heart.
However New Nigerian investigation revealed that between January and early last month, a litre of petrol at filling stations across the state was sold between N100.00 and N120.00 with no queue of vehicles, except NNPC mega stations and other major independent marketers of the product such as Total, Mobil, Oando and Fort Oil, that sell at government regulated pump price of N86.50 whenever they have the product but with long queue of vehicles.
By the end of the month, a litre price increased to N150.00 and kept increasing with an unusual queue building up at stations compare to early part of the month. The increase is without its unpleasant effect on prices of other commodities, especially food items in the markets which most residents, most of them civil servants on fixed income complained bitterly.
No sooner than news of current plan by the federal government to review the pump price of petroleum products in the country hit the society that many filling stations in the state closed stations leaving few that opened for business to hike price, selling at N180.00 a litre by morning of Wednesday and rose to N200.00 by evening.
As at Thursday when this report was filed, a litre has gone up to N250.00 by morning while the product was rarely available to buyers or motorists and other users.
Most worrisome within public domain is the fact that NNPC Mega Stations and other major independent marketers hoped should have provided a relief were not opening for business.
At NNPC Mega Station along Ikot Ekpene Road in Uyo frustrated cars owners who queued for days without fuel decided to abandon their vehicles on the queue, thus causing uneasy flow of traffic around the area.