• As if fuel scarcity is not enough, Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police Solomon Arase has banned the sale and buying of petrol and other petroleum products in plastic containers.

    In a statement by the police spokesperson, Olabisi Kolawole, Mr Arase ordered the immediate arrest of persons found selling or buying petrol and its products in jerry cans. He said the move was advised by the imminent danger posed by buying and storing of petrol in homes.

    Arase, who issued the directive in Abuja, stressed that fuel products such as petrol, are highly flammable and can seriously endanger people, property, and the environment.

    “It has also rendered some innocent and law abiding citizens homeless due to fire outbreak from jerry-can petrol storage,” said Mr Arase adding that the move will also inhibit the “activities of black marketers.”

    For the past six months, Nigeria has been dealing with frustrating fuel scarcity and the problem still looms with no sign of hope in the near future.

    The effect of fuel crisis is now being felt by Nigerians who have to dig deeper from their already deflated pockets to afford not only food, transport but now even electricity, which many have been using petrol to power their low-cost generators.

    The cost of running the so-called low-cost generators is thrice that of the 18% who are connected to the national grid and get reliable electricity. The rest of the people are left in the dark when they are not able to fuel the generators. And now, Arase has banned the sale of fuel in jerry cans. What will people who run their homes and businesses do without the jerry cans which is the only mode to carry the precious commodity?

    According to Arase, this best-intended plan is aimed at preventing fire outbreaks in homes where petrol is stored. Additionally, the goal is also to kick out the people in the black market who take advantage of the crisis by selling the commodity several times higher to desperate customers.

    As expected, this did not sit well with Nigerians who took to social media to criticise the directive.

    Nigerians can handle the electricity shortages as they have been doing in the past using the fuel generators. But now with the inability to get fuel, the situation is dire for the population that has been relying on generators to light their homes and run businesses.

    It seems as though the government is trying to curb the use of the popular generators among the population. Last November, the government passed a ban on the importation of small generators which are a source of light and energy for many.

    If the government wants to curtail activities of those who resell at the black market, can’t it devise a method, like arresting the culprits rather than make everyone pay for the sins of the few people?

    Will Nigerians be forced to carry generators to petrol stations for filling because they are not allowed to buy petrol in jerry cans?

    Fuel crisis in Nigeria has forced residents to queue at petrol stations until late into the night waiting to buy fuel, which has caused serious traffic in cities and towns. This is the worst fuel shortage to hit Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer, for years. Some petrol stations, taking advantage of the situation have more than tripled the price of fuel.

    The government has however continued to promise that it is doing the very best to end the fuel scarcity, but the new plan is anything but a solution to the challenge.


    Image credit: AFP