Transportation worsens in Nigeria ensuing fuel shortage

Nigeria faces fuel shortages after slump in oil revenues, angry motorists queue overnight at petrol stations.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

People queue with their vehicles to buy fuel in front of a fuel station at Agege district in Lagos, Nigeria April 5, 2016.

Angry motorists queued overnight at petrol stations across Nigeria and lines of cars blocked traffic in the commercial capital, Lagos, on Tuesday as the worst fuel shortage in years hit Africa's top oil producer.

President Muhammadu Buhari was elected in March 2015 on a ticket to end the mismanagement and corruption that kept most of the 180 million people in Nigeria in poverty, despite the country's oil wealth.

However, a slump in oil revenues, after a slide in global crude prices plunged Africa's biggest economy into its worst crisis in decades, with the supplies of dollars needed to pay for fuel and other crucial imports drying up.

Buhari's All Progressives Conference party (APC) and ministers have come under fire for not getting agreements in place quick enough to swap Nigeria's crude oil for fuels such as gasoline, and keep vehicles running.

"We've slept here in the queue since yesterday night but there is no fuel," said Thomas Udoh, a driver in a queue for a petrol station stretching for kilometres in Lagos.

"I voted for APC for change, but ... is this the change? This is very painful," Udoh said.

A fuel station is seen closed along a road in Agidingbi district in Lagos, Nigeria April 5, 2016. [Reuters]

Many people in Lagos did not make it to work on Tuesday, a sprawling metropolis of more than 20 million people, with even some small side streets jammed by queuing cars.

Despite pumping 1.8 million barrels of oil a day, Nigeria imports most of its fuel as its outdated refineries are often out of action. Analysts say fraud at a subsidised petrol scheme is also leading to the shortages that have steadily worsened.

Nigeria has often been hit by strikes by unpaid oil marketers hampering supplies, but these disruptions have usually been fixed by the government relatively quickly.

This time the crisis has dragged on for more than a month and the situation has deteriorated in the past few days, despite assurances by the state oil firm head Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, which said that the queues would disappear this week.

Last week, he had said that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had reached deals with international oil companies for them to help provide hard currency to fund fuel imports, but motorists had little faith in a quick fix.

"The whole thing is not working out, you can see there are queues everywhere," said Ankele James, an accountant in Lagos stuck in a queue for fuel.

"I have been here since yesterday."


TRTWorld, Reuters