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Sunday, 24 May 2015

MTN , AIRTEL , banks , radio stations may shut down today !

Petrol, diesel scarcity affect Airtel, MTN, banks, radio stations, entertainment outfits


 May 25, 2015 - 01:11
Written by: 
Our Reporters
Motorists queuing for fuel in Ibadan, on Sunday. PHOTO: YEMI FUNSO-OKE.
FIVE days to the May 29 handover date, Nigerians face a difficult week, as socio-economic activities are becoming paralysed by the day, causing much frustration among the people.
As fuel scarcity bites harder, leading to astronomical increase in the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), popularly known as petrol, commuting to and from work during the week may be much harder than it was last week.
The cost of transport fare has also risen sharply, getting out of reach of many commuters, as commercial vehicle operators and other motorists were forced to keep vigil at fuel stations.
The price of domestic cooking gas has also markedly increased from the usual price of N2,700 for the 12.5kilogrammes cylinder to between N3,700 and N4,000. The alternative domestic cooking fuel, which is kerosene, is also out of reach of most people, as it had always been scarce even before the current situation.
Even in religious circles, some churches were reported to have cancelled some programmes scheduled for midweek and the weekend, especially vigil scheduled for  last Friday of the month.
On Sunday, some churches closed early, so that members could find their way back home on time. Attendance at some of the churches was also markedly low due to the fuel situation.
At the major airports in the country, activities became paralysed, as the airlines could not get aviation fuel to operate their aircraft.
Several flights were also cancelled, while some of the international airlines were said to be diverting their flights to Ghana.
In the area of communication, a major telecommunications outfit, MTN, alerted the nation to a possible shutdown, saying that most of the base stations had been starved of fuel to run the generators serving them in the absence of regular power supply.
The week may also witness very low business activities as the fuel scarcity bites harder and regular power supply dips to its lowest in recent years.
It was revealed at the weekend that power generation dropped to 1,327 megawatts from a peak of 4,800mw some months back.
Most businesses which had been running on generators for several weeks may now have to come to the realisation that they were at their tether’s end.
With the development, many businesses had been forced to ration their available fuel because of the uncertainty of the availability of the product in the coming weeks.
Since Friday, various entertainment outfits witnessed considerably low patronage, as many fun seekers stayed at home.
Also, most clubs and bars increased prices on some of their drinks, a situation which further discouraged patrons from coming out. As a result of this, many hang-outs did not operate overnight in many cities in the South-West.
Telecommunications outfits and radio stations were also not left out.
Since Saturday, outfits like MTN, Airtel, Beat FM, City FM, among others, released online statements, stating that they were facing difficulties in operation and would, therefore, be rationing the available fuel in order to provide services.
MTN had issued a release on its website on Saturday, stating that it was experiencing difficulties with normal operations, as base stations were run with diesel 24 hours a day.
On Sunday, Airtel submitted in its release that it was also facing problems with restocking diesel to its base station for hitch-free technical operations.
Both telecommunications outfits, however, promised to work assiduously to ensure good service.
Top Lagos-based radio station, BeatFM, also shut down its operation, while others were announcing that they had no option but to shut down too.
The ongoing scarcity of fuel and power supply continued to take its toll on Lagos residents, who now go about looking for water and fuel even in unusual places.
A survey carried out by the Nigerian Tribune on Sunday showed scores of residents wandering from one petrol station to another with kegs, all in search of fuel.
In many neighbourhoods, residents now pay as much as twice the usual amount on transport fares, some even suggested that they might even stay at home today, as rumours were rife that the situation would have then become worse.
Transport fare from Meiran area of Agbado Ijaiye to Agege, which usually went for N100, had shot up to N200.
Residents were also found to have run short of water, as lack of electricity meant no power by households to pump water from boreholes.
In one of the communities visited, the Area 1 Estate at Adura area of the Lagos Abeokuta Expressway, a hitherto abandoned well proved to be the only source of water for some residents.
Civil servants were also lamenting as they were forced to pay through the nose to pay their way to work.
As of Friday, transport fare between Egbeda/Akowonjo and Ikeja, which used to attract N100, was jerked up to N400.
The effect of the situation also spread to other areas, as prices of foodstuffs also gone up by 300 per cent.
Socio-economic activities were paralysed due to the current fuel scarcity in Ogun State, as residents were subjected to untold hardship.
Over 95 per cent of fuel stations in Abeokuta metropolis were without the commodity, while the few ones  dispensing fuel were selling at exorbitant prices.
A litre of petrol is between N250 and N300 in places where the commodity was being dispensed.
Commuters were stranded at motor parks, while few commercial vehicles plying the road were milking heavily from the present situation.
The artificial fuel scarcity worsened in Ondo, as heavy long  queues returned to filling stations in different parts of the state.
A litre of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) petrol is sold for between N150 to 200 per litre in different areas of the state, including Akure, Ondo, Ore, Owo, Ikare and many other places.
Investigation by the Nigerian Tribune revealed that a litre was sold for between N250 and N300 in the  black market, while some filling stations were not even ready to sell the product, but opted to sell to hoodlums, who sell as high as N300 per litre to desperate consumers.
A survey around the capital city of Ondo, Akure, showed that most filling stations did not open for business, while heavy queues were noticed in the few filling stations which opened for business in the town.
Nigerian Tribune observed that the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation  (NNPC) mega  stations within the capital city were selling fuel at the official price of N87, but were overwhelmed by the queues.
The scarcity continued to make life unbearable to citizens of the state, especially motorists, as scores of them were left stranded at filling stations.
Erratic power supply was also visible in most towns and cities across the state, as there was power outage in some areas for some days.
People and residents of Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, who had, since January, been used to buying fuel at between N105 and N115 per litre, instead of the N87 official rate and depending on the availability of the commodity at most of the filling stations within the metropolis.
Within the same period, the black market operators had a fixed rate of between N130 and N150 per litre.
However, the people of the state woke up to the harsh realities last week Thursday, when most of the filling stations suddenly ran out of the now essential commodity.
An investigative trip by the Nigerian Tribune to most of the filling station saw motorists and other users of the product stranded on a long queue, as the commodity was not available.
Where available, the product went for as high as N180 per litre at pump price, while those who could not stay for long on the queue opted for the black market, where the price had gone up to between N200 and N250 per litre.
Compounding the problem of fuel scarcity was the pervading acute shortage of power supply within the Port Harcourt metropolis, which had been ongoing for more than one year.
Worst hit were areas like Mini Orlu and Eliparanwo Road, off Ada George Road, where the residents had been experiencing complete darkness and thereby resorting to generators, at least, to have a semblance of power in their homes.
The acute fuel shortage gone worse in Abuja, as black marketers themselves were running out of stock, a development that necessitated the selling of fuel at N300 per litre.
Investigations by  the Nigerian Tribune in Abuja indicated that about 95 per cent of filling stattions were under lock and key, while a motley of queue noticed in some filling stations were in anticipation of getting fuel to buy today.
Checks round the streets of Abuja witnessed the absence of  the usual fuel black markers who, some days’ past, littered the streets with Jerry cans full of products, clutching hose and funnels as the case may be
Because of the acute shortge of fuel in the stock of black marketers, the few ones in the satellite towns of Kuje, Mararaba and Gwagwalada sold 10 litres of petrol at N3,000, translating to N300 per litre.
In Kuje area council, motorists who could not afford to park their vehicles until the fuel situation improves were seeing queuing in front of a black marketer stationed at the Tipper Garage entrance of the town, waiting to buy fuel at N300 per litre.
The acute fuel scarcity also took its toll on transport fares, with the increase as high as 100 per cent in some places.
Investigation showed that residents in FCT had to move to adjoining states in order to get the product at exorbitant price.
Residents of Bauchi, the Bauchi State capital, groaned under erratic power supply in the metropolis, even as the people battled with high cost of petrol in filling stations where the product is available.
Findings by the Nigerian Tribune in the metropolis, on Sunday, revealed that there had been serious shedding of power supply in major parts of the capital city, which some residents said was unfortunate at a time there was intense heat.
Residents of Rafin Zurfi, Yelwa Lebira, Gwallameji, Tudun Salmanu, Nassarawa Jahun, among others, complained that they did not get electricity from Jos Distribution Company in recent days.
It was gathered that the cost of fuel supply in the metropolis was getting high as the commodity was being sold between N130 and N150 per litre in filling stations which had fuel for sale.
A gallon of four litres of petrol was, as of Sunday, being sold between N800 and N900 by black marketers in parts of the metropolis.