In this piece, IHUOMA OKOCHA and CHIBUZO EKERE went round town to speak with those selling fuel in jerry on how they get fuel when motorists complain that they do not get the product, as well as the risk involved in their business.
As fuel scarcity continues to bite harder, the black market for the priced products are having field day. In Abuja, They (black marketers) have used the great opportunity provided by the scarcity of fuel to boom their business selling one litre of fuel for between N200 and N300.
As a result of this rather unfortunate development in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, it has been discovered that the number of fuel hawkers has tremendously increased. Motorists go through tortuous experience to get fuel with some passing nights at filling stations waiting for when filling stations would open service next day. In the same vein, commuters suffer untold hardship going to work and business centres. Prices of goods and social services have skyrocketed. For families, it is a woeful daily tale.
Speaking with Nigerian Pilot, a road-side petrol seller who identified himself as Rajib Ibrahim, revealed that he gets fuel from the filling station late in the night. Asked what he thinks about the risk of the business, he maintained that nothing bad will happen to him. He said all he needs to do is to be careful so that he does not get involved in fire disaster that could possibly result from the risky business. “Nothing will happen to me. I am very careful not to store my fuel near fire, or where children live or play”, he said.
He further added that if government settles marketers or not that will not bother him because it will not affect him, pointing to the fact that he has another business while he is just hawking petrol for the meantime. He noted that any time things don’t work well in the oil sector, it indicates that their business time has come.
However, Abdul Mohammed in his opinion said that he buys fuel from one Conoil filling station somewhere in Jabi at the price N200 a litre and sells at N250. He then wished that the scarcity will continue so he could continue his business. He also added that he is not afraid of the risk of the business because he has being in it for years.
“We used to buy at Masaka at the rate of N120 or N130 per litre and sell at the price of N3,800 for 25litres and N1,700 or N1,800 for 10 litres”, said Roland . Asked what he will do if the issue of fuel scarcity is resolved , “I have other businesses I am doing before the problem of fuel scarcity started. My younger ones are still running that one for me, so definitely, I will go back to my business”.
Fortune, another petrol hawker said “I buy at Kado at the rate of N130 a litre and sell at rate of N1,600 to N1,800 for 10 litres. If the price comes down most of us will stop or we reduce the price and sell at the normal price or go back to our normal business. As for me, I just finished writing my WAEC so I decided to do this before I continue my academic pursuit and this has given me little money to help my younger ones and my parents”.
Another hawker who gave his name as Musa Musa said he buys at NNPC filling station along Olusegun Obasanjo Way Central Business Area at the price of N150 per litre and sell at the rate of N2,500 for 10 litres. “Whether the price of fuel comes down or not I will still continue the business because I do not have another thing I am doing” he stated.
Mohammed Umaru on his own disclosed that he buys at NNPC station but bribes the sellers before they sell to them. His words, “we buy at NNPC here but they collect little bribe from us”. He also revealed that they store the petrol behind a plaza and sell at N2,000 for 10litres.
However, it was also gathered that they also hide and store their products in the bush and uncompleted buildings where they mix them before retailing to the public who are not patient enough to join the long queues at the filling stations.
Nigerian Pilot also noticed that a tank packed opposite NNPC along Olusegun Obasanjo Way Central Business Area which was assumed to have broken down there was now used as storage for fuel.
Yakubu Mohammed who sells his product at Airport road on his part stated that he used to buy the fuel from Kaduna road below N4,000 and sell it at the rate of N5,000. He also added that he preferred going to the far distance to buy because they sell cheaper than others around his area.
He however said that he will quit the business and try other business if the fuel scarcity issue is settled and fuel price comes back to its normal level. Nevertheless, a large number of petrol hawkers were found with their jerry cans and gallons behind the tank purchasing fuel from a man who was assumed to be the one running the business.
Aliyu in Jabi another fuel hawker, stated that “we get our fuel in the night because that is the only time they sell to all of us black marketers. We use to buy in gallons from any filling station around us here and we add little amount of money to it and sell. That is how we make our money”. According to him he bought 25 liters at the rate of N4,000 and sell it at N5,000, but maintained that the risk of the business is the way policemen are pursuing them. He added that he cannot stop the business as he made a lot of money from it.
For now, no one knows when the situation would normalise.