File image of queues at a Lagos filling station.
...Fuel scarcity a blessing in disguise-hawkers in Abuja
…Security agents mum on why practice continues
By Luminous Jannamike, Abuja
MANY youths in Abuja have continued with the hawking of Premium Motor Spirit otherwise known as petrol, in the streets despite the stance of government that the police authorities should go tough on anyone doing so.
Six years after former Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase, ordered all Zonal AIG’s, FCT and State CPs to enforce an existing Federal Government policy prohibiting this activity, street hawking of petrol in Jerry-cans has not disappeared.
Following the recent scarcity provoked by the importation of adulterated petrol, the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, decided to implement the policy in parts of the Abuja city centre. However, findings by Arewa Voice on some roads across the FCT have revealed that many youths are still hawking petrol even in front of filling stations without the caution of knowing the implication of the commodity when inflamed.
From Wuse through the Central Business District to the Garki area of Abuja, youths can be seen hawking petrol unperturbed by fear of government authorities. Some of them who spoke to Arewa Voice described the fuel crisis in the country as a blessing in disguise. While some filling stations in the city centre still maintain the pump price of N165 per litre, those located in remote settlements dispense the same volume of petrol for as high as N250. Roadside hawkers of the product sell 10 litres of the commodity in Jerry-cans between N3,300 and N3,500.
A petrol hawker along Samuel Ademulegun Avenue, who identified himself only as Sani, said at the onset of the fuel crisis, he was making about N10,000 in profit each day. “But, I have not sold up to a 100 litres since yesterday because even motorists are adjusting to the situation. My friend told me that the fuel scarcity would linger for many more days and I really hope so,” he said.
As the sun was setting on Monday, young men were seen hawking petrol along the Airport Road. One of them who gave his name as Ibrahim Shehu told Arewa Voice that there was nothing else for him to do than to sell petrol in jerry-cans. “My uncle also sells petrol in front of the filling station near a church (names withheld). There is nothing else for us to do. I have to help my family,” he said.
However, a task force team sometimes goes round the nation’s capital city to arrest petrol hawkers as well as confiscate their products as a sign for others to desist from such acts. Speaking to newsmen in Abuja, the leader of DPR’s task force in the FCT, Umar Muhammed Bello, condemned the selling of petrol in jerry-cans, saying that it is detrimental to public safety and well-being.
Bello said: “It is for the general public and the entire well-being of the society that we are emphasising that the sales of PMS in jerry-cans should be discouraged. So, we are appealing to people, for their own safety, they should desist from such acts. There’s the also the issue of quality too. It is easy to tamper with quality once the product is inside a Jerry-can. Some petroleum products attract water from the environment which contaminates them. So, try and buy your fuel from the pump and don’t patronise roadside hawkers.”
Meanwhile, some Abuja residents, who spoke anonymously, are calling on the Federal Government and petrol marketers to end the lingering fuel scarcity in the country.