Borno State residents have been put under pressure over unregulated hike in petrol price in the locality. But the Nigerian Government had ruled-out any increase in petrol, at least till the end of March.
The power outage in the area occurred when members of the outlawed Boko Haram insurgents reportedly bombed some power stations and transmission lines outside Maiduguri, the State Capital, two weeks ago.
In reality, repairs on the power lines by officials of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) has been on a snail speed despite the heavy security personnel attached to the engineers.
Already, business owners now have to rely on their power generating sets for electricity arising from tj scramble for alternative source of energy, thereby leading to a hike in price of petrol also known as Premium Motor spirit (PMS).
Channels television, said the blackout, has created a boom for black marketers, brushing aside safety measures.
“A litre was N200 when fuel was available, but when it became very scarce fuel was sold for N450 to N500,” one black marketer, Mohammed Abdulrahman.
“But to be honest when the product is scarce, that’s when we make more profit. But when the fuel was available sometimes you’ll be here the whole day and maybe only five or six cars would stop to buy from you.”
The marketers’ profit is, however, a loss to consumers, especially businesses.
“Every blessed day you spend N5,000 on fuel and there is no power everything is now expensive,” a business owner, Abdulmumini Bello, said.
“The government should consider and help us out of this difficulty. We are facing the problem of power outage and petrol, and there is poverty.”
A motorist, Maikudi Kwajaffa, said filling stations have perfected the art of deception.
“If you go to the filling station you’ll see the display on their dashboard saying N162 but actually if you say you want to buy N2,000 fuel, they’ll just carry their calculator and begin to calculate,” Kwajaffa said.
“If you go to another place they’ll say it’s N190 or N180. I don’t know if they are waiting for the government to increase the price, but hoarding the fuel makes it so scarce and you know in Maiduguri it’s about two months now we don’t have light so most people want to take in jerrycan or gallon.”
But the regulatory body – Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR Comptroller, Abubakar Ciroma, said there are no fuel queues in Maiduguri but admitted that the agency is battling the marketers over pricing.
He attributed the long distance between Maiduguri and major petrol hubs such as Lagos and Port Harcourt for the shortfall in supply that has spooked the marketers.
“Also the insecurity challenges along the road,” he said. “You know we have had so many cases of blockage on the road and so on.
“Some of the vehicles break down because they are old and they are coming all the way from Lagos with the bad roads here and there”, he said.