16th January, 2012
Rising costs as a result of fuel scarcity threatened to paralyse business activities in Benin on Sunday following the break from protests over federal government’s removal of fuel subsidy.
Normalcy had returned to the Edo capital city by Day Two of the strike-free period called on Friday by the organised labour.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the organised labour and civil society had earlier led five days of protests and rallies following the January 1 removal of fuel subsidy.
However, NAN observed that residents seemed to be facing another round of discomfort after showing signs of relief following labour’s announcement of the two-day break.
NAN investigation shows that there are long queues for fuel both at the NNPC mega-stations and the other non government-owned filling stations within the metropolis.
While the NNPC stations sell fuel at N138 per litre, the few independent marketers whose stations have managed to remain open however sell a litre for between N160 and N170.
As a result, commercial bus operators and motorcyclists, known as Okada riders, have also increased their fares by between 50 percent and 100 percent.
This was however dependent on the routes and destination of the passengers who had taken advantage of the two-day break to engage in buying and selling at some of the major markets.
Consequently, this situation had shot up the prices of foodstuffs, with many of the city’s residents lamenting.
“We are going to be more impoverished with this situation, if government does not act wisely and urgently too,” some of those engaging in the act of buying said.
Mrs. Alice Okunbor, a school teacher, attributed the situation to the high cost of fuel.
“While we are struggling to pay the school fees of our three children and meet their other school needs, now these high cost of foodstuffs attributable to the removal of fuel subsidy have come.
“How can anybody now explain that a 50 kg. bag of rice, which sold for N9,000 last Christmas, is now selling for close to N15,000? This is unthinkable,” she said.
Other residents who spoke to NAN, however, prayed for both government and labour to see to the quick resolution of the crisis.