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The return of fuel queues in Ondo

Aribigbola Afolabi

In recent days a noticeable development in most cities in Ondo State is the return of the dreaded fuel queues with its associated crisis, disorder and sufferings at the petrol filling stations by motorists and others in their quest to procure the indispensable commodity. It is now a common sight to see motorists form long queues at fuel stations in Akure, the State capital and other parts of the Sunshine State especially in the major oil marketers’ outlets.

This is against the backdrop of the hike in petroleum pump price that was hinged on the simple fact that the product will be easily available and people will not dissipate their energies nor waste their valuable times at the fuel stations on queues to buy petroleum products. In other words, the current high pump prices of petroleum products in the country was  introduced by the government as we were told, to eliminate the seemingly intractable fuel scarcity and long queues that have come to dominate the distribution of the product in our petroleum filling stations. This current queues in Ondo State was therefore an antithesis of the purpose of fuel hike in the country that pushed the price of the commodity beyond the reach of average Nigerians.

The resurgence of queues in recent days in spite of the high price of the product signals scarcity and sufferings among the people of the country. This is because as was the situation in the past, it has the potency to negatively affect all other sectors of the economy of the state and the entire nation. This has become a source of worry to many residents of the Sunshine State and Nigerians generally as to why the perennial queues again. Is it because the products are not readily available to marketers or as usual, the marketers are hoarding the commodity in order to hike the pump price  any time the government plan an increase in this essential and very important commodity. Very important because most activities and services in the country depend on it for their functioning.

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The long queues building in filling stations across the state have a lot of implications. First, it signals impending scarcity of the product. In other words, it is an indication that petrol is not readily available for distribution across the states of the country. Also, panic buying that would lead to black marketeering and hike in price is already in motion. Already some marketers in the state capitalizing on the unpalatable situation have increased their pump price to between N685 to N770 per litre against the official price of N585 to N620 per litre.

Unfortunately, these are happening when naira is appreciating against other international currencies that should translate into reduction in pump price of fuel in the country. Besides, building up of long queues at the filling stations, thereby disturbing free flow of traffic. Queues at fuel stations also imply that motorists will be subjected to a lot of sufferings especially as they struggle to procure the essential commodity. Of course, we all know that ultimately it will translate into increases in the cost of transportation that will invariably affect cost of essential commodities and the cost of doing business in the state. In other words, long queues will affect cost of moving goods and services around the state with its multiplier effects on the prices of goods and services.  Besides, it also has the negative outcome of wasting precious time of motorists as they will have to stay longer than necessary at fuel stations to procure the seemingly indispensable product.

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Valuable time that could have been used for other productive activities that will propel societal growth and development will be expended on queues, struggling to purchase petrol. Long queues at fuel stations can engender crisis as touts and miscreants can take advantage of the chaotic situation to indulge in unwholesome criminal activities including harassment and extortion of motorists especially those travelling long distances. In some cases, vehicles are damaged. Indeed, and despite that the queues have been building for some days, nobody has come to give reasons for the current precarious situations of fuel distribution in the state. However, some have reasoned that the current queues in Akure and other parts of the State was due to the practice of the marketers in their overwhelming quest to make more profit from the chaotic situation.

 Many of them instead of dispensing fuel from all their pumps will only operate one or two pumps so as so send signals to the public that the product is not readily available. In addition, there has been allegation that the marketers have reached agreement not to be selling fuel at the same time. Some will sell in the morning while, some will sell in the afternoon and others in the evening. That if all of them are selling at the same time, the long time being experienced at the moment in the state will not be there or will disappear very quickly. Essentially some said that the current situation is a product of manipulation by the marketers since all of them failed to sell the product same time thereby creating artificial scarcity resulting in panic buying by motorists and consequently the present long queues.

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The ultimate goal of these shylock marketers is to adjust their pump price so as to defraud the members of the public who live at their mercies. Unfortunately, it does not appear that the pricing control agencies are checking the excesses of the oil marketers in the state, especially the independent suppliers that take pride in extorting and inflicting suffering on the poor masses of the state. This is why some of them adjust their pump price at will. Their price in the morning will differ from what they will display in the afternoon and evening. The return of queues at filling stations in Ondo State presupposes scarcity of the product and have been inflicting suffering on the residents of the state. It has resulted to hike in pump price thereby inflicting more hardship on the people.

There seems not to be any serious efforts to address the problem. If the government is interested in ensuring the welfare and prosperity of the citizens of the state, it should call those responsible for the crisis to order because it appears that the current challenge is affecting only Ondo State. The agency created to ensure availability and pricing of the products as well as consumer protection agency should rise to the occasion to stop the exploitation of the masses by the oil marketers that take joy in cheating members of the public through hike in pump price. A situation in which the concerned authorities or supply agencies are complacent or lukewarm in their assignment will only allow the oil marketers to continue to exploit the people. 

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The return of fuel queues in Ondo

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