By Jimoh Ahmed
The scarcity of the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise known as petrol has hit all the major cities across Ondo North and the state capital, Akure, The Hope can authoritatively report.
Many gas stations visited on during the week by our correspondent in Owo, Ikare, Oka Akoko, Akungba and other major towns in the district showed that consumers of the product have resorted to panic buying.
None of the filling stations were selling the product at the time of filing this report but The Hope reliably gathered that majority of them are having it in stock.
Our reporter had through the weekend observed the petrol scarcity as many of the gas stations shut their gates.
Our correspondent who was at the Mega station of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on the Ilale/Idashen, in Owo reported that there were long queues of motorists trying to get the product.
Some customers were sighted debating and groaning about the situation most especially as it is coming on the heals of the current harsh economic condition.
A motorist, Suleiman Alowonle who spoke with our reporter stated that the scarcity of the product has already caused untold hardship for residents in the state.
Mr. Suleiman who expressed fear over a possible hike in transport fare due to the scarcity and price of the petrol product said: “Nothing seems to be working again in this country. Just imagine, few days to Christmas and we (Nigerians) are experiencing difficulties in getting fuel.”
“As you can now see, the increase has affected the economy of the state because transport fare will be increased soon.”
He added that the petrol scarcity aside hindering the business and social life in the state, has also allowed for free flow of traffic.
A trader, Mrs. Olatunde Joy said scarcity of the product has affected her business and begged the government to urgently step in by making the product available to the consumers.
“In my shop, I use a generator to power my refrigerators but now that the product is scarce, things are getting difficult,” she said.
“I am begging the government to please come in urgently and save the masses.”
A manager in one of the gas stations that pleaded anonymity revealed that scarcity was caused by the Independent Petroleum Marketers of Nigeria (IPMAN) who have reduced supply to some of the outlets.
“Go and ask the independent marketers why they are reducing supply to us, like here (gas station) we have six tankers but they only loaded one”.
“So, they are the one causing all this and like I told one of the motorists, it is not that there is no fuel, but the main reason was that supply has been reduced.”
He added further that if urgent steps were not taken by the authorities concerned, the scarcity would bite harder in the state and nationwide.
Due to the scarcity, civil servants in the state are also going through hard times as some of them lamented over getting to work late.
Meanwhile, situation reports on the scarcity shows that some gas stations are now hoarding the product.
Also, most commercial vehicle operators and vehicle owners have been forced to abandon their vehicles at home while commuters were forced to trek long distances while majority of travellers are stranded along the roads.
At the Ikare junction in Owo, those travelling dotted the road wearing forlon faces and looked dejected and disappointed.
A traveller, Mr Kehinde Adejoro who told our reporter that he was going to Abuja said he had been standing along the roadside for five hours looking for vehicle to board to his destination but none was showing up.
Kehinde said he was willing to pay any price to get to Abuja where he was billed for two important job interviews on Friday.
He lamented the current situation calling on government to nip the problem in the bud to prevent another national shame.
In the same vein, a community leader in Akoko, Alhaji Ibrahim Kilani while decrying the situation posited that this could be avoided if there is sincerity on the part of the stakeholders in the sector.
Alhaji Kilani said it is a national shame if the issue of fuel scarcity continues to reverberate in the country despite the fact that we are a major explorer of oil.
The veteran journalist and Islamic cleric called on government to put its house in order and tackle the situation headlong by blocking all loopholes in the handling of the product.
Alhaji Kilani also called for overhaul of the refineries in the country and the establishment of new ones.
Similarly, he also called on private investors to consider establishing refineries while government should provide the necessary enabling environment for investors.