• Commuters resort to trekking
• Rights groups protest in Edo
Amid efforts by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and independent marketers to ensure the supply of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) in the country, fares have increased by over 200 per cent in major cities in the country.

There are signs too, of restiveness in some parts of the country just as Lagos Governor Akinwunmi Ambode yesterday appealed to residents of the state to bear with the government over the lingering shortage of fuel and electricity across the state.

In Edo State, some Civil Society Organisations (CSO) yesterday protested against the incessant fuel scarcity and asked President Muhammadu Buhari to curtail his foreign trips and face the challenges at home.

To ease the pains of fuel scarcity in Cross River , the state government says it has begun the monitoring of trucks movement.The Commissioner for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Itaya Asuquo Nyong, said on Tuesday his ministry would follow up trucks at NNPC Calabar depot to ensure that products were made available to independent and major marketers and also to ensure that the people of Cross River and Akwa Ibom states were not short-changed.

Although the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu promised the regular supply of petrol between yesterday and tomorrow, the fuel crises got worse in some parts of the country with commuters resorting to trekking long distances.

This comes as President Buhari is said to have summoned Kachikwu for a brief on the supply of products across the country.
As yesterday, many people were stranded at various bus stops due to a shortage of commercial buses, which are spending several hours in the queue at petrol stations in a bid to buy fuel.The few ones which manage to get the product at the black market have increased fares by over 100 per cent.

For instance, charges from Oshodi to Mile Two which used to be between N50 and N100 have risen to between N200 and N300, depending on the time and type of vehicle available.

Also, taxicabs within the city have increased their charges. Taxi fare from Victoria Island to Ikeja which used to be between N1,500 and N2,000 has increased to about N4,000. Some people have resorted to trekking to their destinations due to lack of commercial vehicles and the high fares. A one-way trip from Lagos to Owerri, Onitsha and Aba which was between N3,000 and N3,500 is now between N4,500 and N5,000.

Motorcyclists and vehicle owners keep vigil at filling stations that have now become battlefields as they struggle to fill their tanks, generating sets and any other fuel-consuming machines.

Explaining efforts put so far into fuel importation, NNPC stated: “A total of 975.32 million litres of white product was distributed and sold by PPMC in the month of February 2016 compared with 939.75 million litres in the month of January2016.

“This comprised 865.47 million litres of PMS, 73.99 million litres of kerosene and 35.85 million litres of diesel. Total sale of white products for the period March 2015 to February 2016 stands at 9.53 billion litres, PMS (8.19 billion litres) accounts for 85.86 per cent. While total special products for the period under review was 5.08 million litres, comprising 2.18 million litres of special products and 2.89 million litres of bunker products.”

The corporation noted that a total value of N74.72 billion naira was collected as sales revenue for white product sold by PPMC in the month of February 2016 compared with 71.62 billion naira collected in the prior month of January 2016.

According to NNPC, total revenues generated from the sales of white products for the period March 2015 to February 2016 stands at 706.59 billion naira where PMS contributed about 89.52 of the revenues collected with a value of
632.55 billion naira.

Nyong, who spoke at a meeting with some major independent marketers in the state as part of efforts in resolving the lingering fuel scarcity in the state that has lasted for over a month, said: “This meeting is not a union meeting but purely a state issue intended to ensure that products reach their destination because the scarcity is biting hard on the people.”

The commissioner said that was one in a series of meetings with major stakeholders in the petroleum industry to ensure that the state was given a fair share in the allocations of petroleum products at the NNPC depot.

According to a statement yesterday by Lagos Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, the state consumes more than 40 per cent of the fuel and energy needs of the country and therefore appreciates that the impact of the scarcity would be felt more in the state. He however, urged residents to remain calm, orderly and law-abiding as government was doing everything possible within its power to find an immediate solution to the crisis.

“Governor Ambode says he shares the pain and discomfort of Lagosians and assures them that President Muhammadu Buhari is deeply touched by the situation and is working round the clock to alleviate the suffering of the people,” he said.

The protesters in Edo under the aegis of Talakawa Parliament in conjunction with Returnees Foundation and Traders Welfare Union of Nigeria lamented the lingering economic crunch that has bedevilled the economy resulting in untold hardship for her residents.

The leaders of Talakawa Parliament as well as Returnee Foundation and Traders Welfare Union of Nigeria, Kola Edokapyi and Solomom Okoduwa during a peaceful protest to the Edo State Council of Nigeria Union Of Journalists (NUJ), Secretariat in Benin, said it was out of place and painful to see the Commander –in-Chief of the Armed Offices and President touring the countries of the world without realising the poverty, hunger and unemployment Nigerians were faced with coupled with the fuel scarcity in the last four months.

The groups who brandished various placard with inscriptions as “End fuel scarcity now,” ‘‘ Kill corruption, don’t kill Nigerians” and “President Buhari must stop the frequent foreign trips”, decried the untold hardship Nigerians were facing due to the fuel scarcity and public electricity supply challenges.