Transport fares have gone up on most routes in Kogi following the scarcity of Premium Motor Spirit, (PMS) generally known as petrol.
Findings by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lokoja on Friday showed that the ordeal of motorists in the state was due to shady deals by officials of NNPC mega stations who resorted to selling fuel at night to other independent marketers.
The marketers in turn sell at exorbitant prices in their stations.
Apart from the NNPC mega station on the Lokoja-Abuja expressway in Lokoja, no other mega station in the state has been selling petrol since the scarcity commenced, although people passing through such stations at night said they saw trucks loaded with drums collecting fuel from them.
A passenger traveling to Lagos from Lokoja, Mr Solomon Jatto, said that before now, the cost of transportation was N4,000 but today it went uo to N6,500 on Friday.
“I have never seen a country like this; the state will not pay salary and government will not release fuel,” he said.
Mrs Victoria Odion, also a traveler, said she was hanging by the road to get a cheaper vehicle, said vehicles coming from Abuja might be cheaper.
Mr Babalola Ajayi noted that the cost of transportation from Lokoja to Abuja is now N,500 as against the N1,000 it used to be.
Further investigations by NAN showed that many independent filling stations did not sell any longer, thus creating scarcity.
Following the situation, many vehicles have been off the road, thereby eliminating the usual traffic on most major roads in the state.
Similarly, transport fare from Lokoja to other parts of the country have increased by almost 100 per cent.
Some of the drivers at the parks visited decried the situation, urging the Federal Government to do something urgent before the issue got out of hand.
Mr Audu Yunusa, a driver, said it was the high cost of buying petrol that gave room for increment in transportation fare.
He bought fuel at N220 per litre, noting that there was no way cost of transporting passengers won’t increase.
Another driver, Mr Adekunle Olalekan, said it was most unfortunate for Nigerians to experience this situation at a critical moment.
The duo urged the Federal Government and NNPC to do something about the fuel scarcity, describing the situation as another hardship to citizens.
The NURTW Chairman, North section, Mr Abdullahi Gambo, said that the cost of transportation was being driven by the cost of petrol, adding that the union could not impose on their members because they got their fuel from different stations at different price.
NAN findings further showed that fuel scarcity had crippled economic and social activities as motorists found it difficult to fuel their vehicles.
Furthermore, due to protracted power outage in parts of Lokoja, the state capital, residents have been groaning in darkness as they could not get petrol to operate their generators to run their businesses.
In Lokoja, a litre of petrol is dispensed by marketers at N200 while at the black market, it is sold at between N250 and N300.
NAN checks revealed that intra and inter-state travelers were now passing through very hard times
Vehicular flow on the streets of Lokoja, have largely become scanty, while most residents now walked to and from their offices and markets.
A petroleum marketer, who spoke on anonymity, said that the cabals were at work again in the petroleum sector.
“The truth is that the cabals are at work again in the petroleum sector. The present administration should keep the cabals at bay during this seasons,” the marketer said.
“The situation has gone on for long now. Look at the queue have spent one hour to purchase fuel here because they sell at approved pump price. If you go to other independent marketers, it sells for N200 or more.
“The quality of the PMS is also a source of worry. We try to buy from major marketers because a measure of quality control persists in their operations.
“We are calling on the Federal Government to quickly stem this tide. We had glimpses of President Muhammad Buhari’s fight on corruption. But the present situation is stage managed by corrupt officials at the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR.”
Meanwhile, Kogi Government was yet to make any official statements on the issue, while residents were seen wearing long faces following the sudden hike in the pump price.