Motorists in Port Harcourt are lamenting the continued scarcity of petroleum products in the Rivers State capital and its environs.
While many filling stations have refused to sell the products, the few ones that decided to sell did so at exorbitant prices.
On Thursday night, the popular Roman’s Filling Station sold premium motor spirit (petrol) for N140 per litre as against the official price of N87 per litre, even as a fuel attendant at the filling station attributed the hike to the increase in the amount the product was sold to them at the depot.
Conoil, Mobil and other filling stations located along the Port Harcourt-Aba Expressway were not selling the fuel when our correspondent visited.
A commercial bus driver, who identified himself as Hyacinth, told Saturday PUNCH that the N140 per litre price of PMS was too high, adding that he had to park his vehicle at home.
Hyacinth, who was at Roman’s Filling Station to buy four litres of fuel to run his generator, said he had been on the queue for several hours.
He said, “I stay in Elioparawon where electricity is supplied only three times in a month. With the scarcity and a litre of petrol being sold at N140, it means my family and I will not feed if I decide to provide myself constant power with my generator.
“I have parked my bus because I cannot afford the N5, 000 to even buy 25 litre of petrol.”
However, transport fares within the state capital and its environs have increased by at least 50 per cent as commercial bus drivers collect fares from their passengers before they embark on a short journey.
One of the drivers, Okwudiri Ike, who explained that he spent over four hours on the queue before he could get petrol, said he had to collect money from his passengers before taking them to their destinations in order to avoid any disagreement on the road.
Ike said, “Can you imagine that I bought 10 litres of petrol for N1, 700 in one of the filling stations. To get my money back and make a little profit, I must increase the transport fare.”
Ike alleged that some of the fuel stations were selling to black marketers at midnight, saying, “These black marketers sell to us at a very high price in the morning.”
But the Head of Public Affairs of the Port Harcourt Zone of the Department of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Carol Bello, said the agency was working to ensure that depot and filling station operators sold petroleum products at the official pump prices.
Bello reminded petroleum product marketers that while petrol must be sold for N87 per litre, the pump price for kerosene remained N50 per litre.