Effects of crippling fuel crisis in Ilorin
If the raging acute fuel crisis is anything to go by, motorists and commuters may have to resign to fate, for there is no respite in sight to the precarious situation currently crippling the economy across the country. Since the crisis reared its ugly head, not only motorists grieved over it, passengers and commuters also shared from the disconsolate debacle.
It is not just because they transit from one place to another, it also involves movement of goods and other wares to various destinations. As the crisis rages, scrambling for fuel in few stations that had the product and dispensed to the public got worsened daily. The situation was palpable nationwide and forced the Federal Government to give ultimatum on when the fuel crisis would subside, albeit yet to abate.
At filling stations that sold the product, exclusive of major marketing stations, a litre was sold between N160 and N180 depending on the willingness and purchasing power of petrol users. But major marketers appeared to be giving some reprieve by selling at N86.50k per litre, only when they get supply from depots. Available facts at our disposal showed that the situation had not got better in Ilorin, Kwara State capital, and consequently compelled commercial motorists to jerk up transport fares.
For instance a trip to Offa from Ilorin, which hitherto cost N250 at designated motor parks, particularly at Ilorin Railway Station, had risen astronomically with about 70 per cent. The trip is now N400. It is not only intra-state transport services that got fares increment, inter-state services also had its fare share. No thanks to the fuel crisis and sudden hike in price, courtesy of individual filling stations' discretion.
Even when the state office of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) swooped on stations found culpable of selling fuel, otherwise known as premium motor spirit above the governmentís official price of N86.50k, the errant stations fought back as they unsealed stations already sealed for sharp practices. Some of them hinged their decision to dispense fuel beyond the approved price on increase in the amount they got the product at private depots in Lagos since government's depots no longer had the product to supply to them. Not long afterwards that the DPR withdrew its operation and monitoring, the stations had field days selling at outrageous prices to the consternation of buyers who could not but procure the product in order to meet up with their daily obligations.
DPR Operation Controller in the state, Salvation Philip, cited threat to life and other assaults on him and his men as some of the reasons why the department would not be willing to continue checking the excesses of fuel marketers. He told City Rove in a recent chat that as a responsible agency, it would be foolhardy to put the life of staff of the agency on the line when the agency was becoming helpless in taming the unwholesome activities of the fuel dealers, who allegedly conducted themselves as if they were untouchable.
However, fuel users including private motorists and commercial operators continued to endure the situation with no time to bring the seeming imbroglio to a halt. City Rove observed that only those with deep pockets could fill up their cars' fuel tanks at stations which sold at N160 and N180 per litre , apart from those on essential services unlike when there was normalcy.
As if the situation would not end soon, many motorists who found the situation unpalatable, had since abandoned their cars till God knows when. In Ilorin city, activities were halted for hours last Wednesday following industrial action embarked upon by commercial taxi-cab operators. Several commuters and passengers who hit the roads and waited at designated bus terminal in anticipation of commercial vehicles got the shock of their lives as many of them waited endlessly.
It was learnt that many of the commuters resorted to trekking to meet up with their appointments while those who could not walk opted for commercial motorcycle with fares rising arbitrarily. Findings by City Rove revealed that some hitherto routes of commercial taxi-cabs were deserted for hours due to the unexpected action of cab operators. Some commercial drivers, who operated secretly but got caught by the task force teams were immediately intercepted and stopped from working in compliance with the strike action.<
Owing to the negative impact of the industrial action, the state government convened an emergency meeting with the leadership of the transport unions in the state to resolve the brewing logjam. The meeting, which a source told City Rove was held at the instance of the Chief of Staff to the Kwara State Governor, Baba Yusuf Abdulwahab, was convened because of the ripple effects the strike by the taxi-cab operators had on the economy of the state.
Though the end result of the meeting was still sketchy, it was gathered that the leaderships of the transport unions stuck to their gun, insisting there was no going back on their plan to jerk up fares. Investigations revealed that a drop of taxi-cab, which used to be N50 had increased to between N70 and N80 depending on the distance. From Tanke to University of Ilorin permanent site campus, which was hitherto N50 had been jerked up to N80 while from Challenge to the campus now stands at N120 per drop.
Also around the town, a drop of taxi-cab from one point to another witnessed similar increment. The development drew lamentation of commuters and passengers who were appalled by the situation as the taxi-cab fares had been priced beyond the reach of their pockets.
Speaking with City Rove in Ilorin yesterday, Administrative Secretary of the Kwara State branch of Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, Abdulrahaman Olayinka Onikijipa, attributed the hike in transport fares to fuel crisis and increase in the price of spare parts , which he described as a nationwide phenomenon.
He however told The Herald correspondent that no taxi-cab operator was forcibly asked to jerk up the fares, saying it was at individualsí discretion. Onikijipa informed that the taxi-cab section of the transport unions in the state had been proliferated, thus it would be difficult to control them. He exonerated the state RTEAN from increment in fares, saying the association was not party to the arrangement.
The administrative secretary noted that fuel price had been astronomically increased from N86.50k to N170 while it would not be wise for the transporters to maintain the initial fare of N50 per drop based on the current petrol price. He said members of the union did not participate in the recent strike action by taxi-cab drivers in the state. Onikijipa urged the Federal Government to wade into the lingering fuel crisis, pointing out that the situation was becoming unbearable for the masses.
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