As long queues are yet to disappear at NNPC mega stations in Rivers State, motorists who cannot afford to spend all day to get fuel at N145 per litre, have been forced to buy at private filling stations at varying rates of between N220 and N250 per litre. These, have led to a sustained increase in transport fare within and outside Port Harcourt metropolis with attendant low patronage of passengers at motor parks.
A survey by our correspondent shows that transport fare to other parts of the state and even outside the state is still high despite the slight decline in fuel pump price after the yuletide season.
A distance within Port Harcourt metropolis which hitherto was N50 is now N100, while that of N100 is now N150. Transport fare from Port Harcourt to Omoku, which is about 40-minutes’ drive before now cost N500 but now costs N1000.
While the transport fare from Port Harcourt to Owerri, the Imo State Capital which is about one hour and 10-minutes’ drive was N900 before now, but has gone up to between N1500 and N2000 depending on the transport company; whereas from Port Harcourt to Umuahia in Abia state which hitherto was N700 is now N1700.
Transport fare from Port Harcourt to Lagos which hitherto was N5500 and N7000 is now between N8500 and N10000 depending on the transport company, although it was between N13000 and N18000 during the yuletide as fuel was sold then at N300 and N450 per litre.
Speaking on the development, Chika Onuegbu, the Chairman of the National Union of Petroleum & Natural Gas workers ( NUPENG), and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, Joint Committee on PIB, said until adequate products that can meet the consumption demand of the people is refined in the country, this kind of problem is bound to occur.
Onuegbu, who is a former National Industrial Relations Officer of PENGASSAN, urged the Federal Government to match words with actions in order to alleviate the sufferings of the citizens.
He stated that the government has only been “sugar-coating” the fuel matter, explaining that it was impossible for importers to import fuel on their own and sell same at N145 per litre given the foreign exchange rate and the price of crude oil.
“So it all goes back to the need to refine our crude oil in Nigeria. Until we refine our oil in Nigeria that can meet up our consumption, we will continue to run into this kind of problem.
In other states, fuel scarcity is fizzling out but here in Rivers it is still a challenge because petroleum products are imported through Lagos and then distributed to other states; also the refineries are not producing enough to cater for the demands of people.
“So we call on the government to expedite action so that people will not continue to suffer. This suffering has been here before Christmas and this is the third week of this year.
“The government must match words with actions. It is not enough for the government to sympathize with the people, the government must do so by the actions they take,” Onuegbu said.