By EMMANUEL OGOIGBE
THE emergence of scarcity of petroleum products is gradually crippling socio-economic activities across the 25 local government areas of Delta State. Investigation carried out by The Oracle Today revealed acute shortage of fuel in commercial cities such as Warri, Sapele, Ughelli, and Asaba by extension, Ogwashi-Uku, Agbor, Ibusa and other adjoining towns and villages.
Consequently, the product, which used to sell for N142 per litre, has risen sharply to N150 and N170 in some places. Further investigation shows that the worrisome development has prompted a sharp increase in the prices of foodstuffs, transportation (land and water) and other domestic needs.
Warri, the commercial, oil, and gas hub of the State is badly hit as people who could not afford the exorbitant price of commercial vehicles have resorting to trekking long distance to their destination.
The Oracle Today learnt that many filling stations in Warri, Agbarho, Ughelli and Sapele have refused to sell their products ostensibly waiting for what they call “golden opportunity” to market their products with the scarcity. Some of the stations insist that they do not have products.
It was fight to finish in one of the filling stations on the popular Warri-Sapele road as touts took over sale of fuel, which later resulted in more violent incidents.
Most pathetic is the hardship being encountered by the riverine dwellers as scores of traders who took their wares to remote riverine communities are finding it difficult to come back to Warri because majority of the boats that ply the various routes could not have access to fuel.
Already, illegal fuel dealers are back to business as they are presently selling adulterated products to make quick money. Motorists, including those on inter-state journeys, are groaning under the burden of the shortage.
It was a pitiable situation in Sapele, Ughelli and Koko in Warri North Local Government Area of the State just as the ancient Nana town has become a no-go-area for oil business as well as Oghara and its environs. People ion those places who could not afford the fares stayed home.
There is an astronomical increase in transport fares. A trip from Warri to Asaba that used to cost N1, 200 is now between N1, 800 and N2, 000.
Law enforcement agents including officials from the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, have waded into the matter and are inspecting filling stations with threats of sanctions, including sealing up the stations, for those that refuse to sell.
It is expected that the measure would make the stations to sell, though the fear persists that they may not have enough fuel to meet demands that had gone up in the past few day.
Assurances from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, that it has enough products, are not reflecting in the activities at the filling stations. Meanwhile the price of kerosene and diesel has not reduced. Most homes now use firewood to cook, as they could not afford the exorbitant price.