The transport fare from Lagos State to Ibadan, Oyo State has been increased by 150% following the scarcity of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS during the Yuletide.
A Tori News correspondent who visited a popular commercial vehicle park at the Mile 2 area of Lagos State today, Sunday learnt the bus fare to Ibadan now costs a sum of N2,550 which is a sharp deviation from the initial N1,050 charged for the same trip prior to the fuel crisis.
Travelers at the motor park who were in an obvious rush to unite with their family members were seen groaning and moaning from different angles in the Mile 2 vehicle park over the unprecedented hike.
Speaking with our correspondent, the bus driver lamented bitterly about the high cost of petrol as well as its unavailability which has coerced commuters into buying fuel at cut-throat prices.
"What do you expect a commercial driver to do in this case when the fuel price has become too high. I suffered to buy a petrol yesterday at the rate of N200 per litre at a filling station in Ibadan"
"I ended up buying 30 litres for a whooping sum of N6,000. As a businessman, I have no choice than to increase the transport fare to make money"
Passengers who had extra luggage to convey to their various destinations were expensively charged by commercial drivers without any sort of sympathy. A woman who had two big Ghana-Must-Go bags filled with personal effects was charged N1,150 amidst pleas and external intervention by others at the park. Tori News discovered that the excruciating hike in transport fare which has been widespread across Nigeria didn't deter most people from traveling.
"Tomorrow is Christmas and I have to be with my family members in Ibadan after being away for months working in Lagos. I have no choice at all and it is very painful" a middle-aged woman told our correspondent.
A young footballer traveling to Ibadan for a crucial amateur football match was stunned with the hyper-inflated fare as he complained bitterly in shock.
"I can't believe my ears, I only budgeted N1,500 for this trip. The current fare is unbelievable. I don't have much (money) on me" he cried out.
Commercial motorists have been widely accused of seizing the irregular fuel prices to exploit travelers paying through the nose to reach their destinations. Some Lagosians with families in the South-east and South-south part of Nigeria have resolved to stay back due to the astronomical fares.
Promises made by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and other stakeholders to end the crisis of fuel scarcity have proved inadequate as it aggravates unabated.
Fuel queues become longer
Most filling stations seen around the Mile 2 area down to Ogun State and Ibadan were shut due to the ongoing fuel crisis.
A few filling stations that were open had historical queues by private car owners, commercial vehicles, motorcyclists and stern-looking black marketers with big kegs.
Customers wore long faces with their looks tainted with dusts due to effects of the Harmattan season. There were minor confrontations and skirmishes at various corners at different petrol stations visited as customers tried to outsmart themselves.
Findings by a Tori News correspondent revealed a few filling stations were selling products at the official price of N145 but customers were mandated to pay an extra undefined fee ranging from N300 to N500 depending on the volume of petrol purchased.
"I paid an extra N500 to fill my vehicle tank after queuing up for hours. The name of the fee wasn't given my by filling station attendants and customers had no other choice than to comply" a customer told Tori News.
When asked why he didn't challenge the attendants about the seeming illicit charge, the customer narrated how an inquisitive buyer who challenged the process was thrown out of the queue.
"A man was delayed and embarrassed publicly by the attendants for refusing to pay the extra fee. He kept protesting and nobody listened to him. In fact, I left him there after coming far behind him".
With the nature of some of the queues at filling stations, it was crystal-clear that thousands of Nigerians were going to spend Christmas in long queues out of desperate bids to fuel their cars and power-generating sets at home.
Black market booms in Ibadan
The desolate state of some major roads in the city of brown roofs pointed to the quagmire of fuel scarcity as most Christian residents resolved to worshiping God from the comfort of their homes.
Elongated queues were seen at various filling stations but fuel was being slowly dispensed. Impatient customers were seen negotiating with black marketers for fair prices.
The Sabo area at Mokola was crowded with mostly teenagers and few youths operating as black marketers. 5-litre petrol kegs were closely placed at the road side for interested buyers.
Tori News gathered that 5 litres of petrol was sold at an apparent uniform price of N2,500 by the black marketers who had sufficient amount of fuel to go round. Investigations by our corespondent revealed a large quantity of fuel sold at the Sabo area which is populated by Hausas has been adulterated thereby causing vehicle breakdown.
"The fuel being sold here has been mixed with Kerosene solution. Don't buy from them if you love your vehicle or else, you will crash the engine. It (fuel) is bad for vehicles. The best is to endure the hardship at the filling stations to get original petrol" a commercial motorcyclist identified as Mr. Kolawole told our reporter.
Consequently, transport fares across short distances in Ibadan have also increased by 50% with several transporters closing shop due to lack of fuel.
Long queues at ATM spots
A number of Automated Teller Machines at the Ago Palace Way, Oshodi/Isolo Area of Lagos were not working at all while others were dysfunctional thereby causing customers distress.
A few functional ATM machines managed by Access Bank, Diamond Bank and others were crowded with people in need to cash to enjoy Christmas. It was a similar situation in Ibadan and no concrete reason for the seeming annual anomaly was given.
Efforts by our correspondent to speak with bank officials failed as the offices were locked and the security officials on duty had no reasonable explanations.
"Nigeria is such a joke, It is difficult to make money, its also difficult to withdraw it including spending your own money" an elderly man who claimed to have visited several ATM points in the Iwo road area of Ibadan in futility asserted.
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