Fuel shortages hit oil-rich Nigeria

Nigeria’s largest cities have been hit by acute fuel shortages which are crippling transport and businesses ahead of the country’s 2015 general elections.

ABUJA, NIGERIA (MARCH 02, 2015) (REUTERS) – Acute fuel shortages have paralysed transport and businesses in Nigeria’s capital Abuja and other main cities, ahead of the country’s general elections.

Long queues of cars have formed outside various petrol stations across the West African country causing traffic jams on main roads.

Petrol stations in Abuja blame the situation on not being able to load products from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation depot.

The scarcity has affected many motorists who say their livelihood has suffered a setback.

”I work at the airport as a car hire and now I’m supposed to be at the airport and there is no fuel for me to go and look for something to do,” airport car driver, Batholomew Ode Akpa said.

”Now that I have bought fuel I want to go back home because I’m not going to do anything again today. Time is gone,” said Peter Amanger, a taxi driver based in Abuja.

Nigeria, a country with a polulation of about 170 million people, is preparing for its next presidential election which pits incumbent Goodluck Jonathan of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) against former military leader Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the most hotly contested election since the end of military rule in 1999.

The West African country greatly depends on fuel imports despite being one of the world’s top crude oil exporters.

Four state-owned oil refineries, with a capacity of 445,000 barrels a day, are unable to meet daily domestic demand of more than 30 million litres per day. Refined petroleum products are imported through the main seaport in Lagos and distributed by trucks around the country.

Petrol station dealer, Lamin Ahmed says people have no choice but to wait as they have high hopes that petrol will soon be available.

”The queue: they are waiting for fuel. We sold yesterday night and yesterday being Sunday trucks were not dispatched to us but right now this queue are the people waiting for us because they know we will surely sell fuel to them,” she said.

Many residents who rely on petrol-powered generators to run their businesses due to the inadequate supply of electricity have also been affected.

Electronics dealer, Eze Greg said purchasing petrol from the black market is his best option to keep his shop open.

”It has affected me tremendously because one, I spend more money, like three times the amount I use in fuelling my cars then I spend money in buying fuel for my generator and when there is scarcity here you can only source it from the black market. You can guess what it costs to run a generator because there is no light,” the businessman said.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has asked residents in the country not to panic as they work towards restoring normal supply.