Imo: Black Marketers Make Fortunes As Petrol Sells For N1,000/Litre…Residents Count Loses
The industrial action embarked upon by the independent petroleum marketers in Imo State entered its third day on Friday, with black marketers making fortunes amidst the fuel scarcity caused by the industrial action.
The prices of fuel at the black market sold for between N700 and N1,000 on Friday.
The petroleum marketers had embarked on the industrial action over the state government’s refusal to obey a court order to pay compensation to one of their members whose filling station was demolished by former Governor Rochas Okorocha’s administration in the Orlu area of the state.
The faceoff between the petroleum marketers and the state government has caused hardship for business owners and other residents who have deal with high cost of fuel at the black market.
Chukwuemke Egbom, a tailor around Works Layout in the state capital, told our correspondent that the situation had posed great challenge to his business.
“It’s a trying moment for my work. I had to travel to Uli in Anambra State to buy fuel for my generator as the public light can never be trusted.
“The marketers in Uli are also cashing in on the situation as they now sell fuel for up to N200 per liter which is against the N165 official pump price.
“It is not in my ethics to disappoint my customers but the matter at hand is beyond me.
“I explained to those that I promised to deliver their cloths this week and some reasoned with me as they too are also handicapped in one way due to this issue.
“I have two industrial machines that works only with electricity and one manual machine. Work has slowed down as I am burning out myself to meet up,” said Egbom.
Remigus, a commercial bus driver who also sells petrol at black market, told our reporter that he sold the product for as high as N1000 per liter.
“I am on my way to Umuahia to get more fuel. The ones I bought yesterday have all been sold,” he said, adding “I sold (petrol for) seven hundred and as the rush increased, I mentioned one thousand to scare customers away but that didn’t stop them from buying it.”
A minibus driver who identified himself as Sunday, said he had to travel to Umuahia, the capital of Abia State, to get fuel for his transportation business.
“I traveled to Umuahia today to buy from fuel. Luckily, I bought at the regular government pump price of 165 naira.
“I charge from N200 naira upwards on the shortest distance you make now so I can recover.
“I pray the people in power sort out this issue so things can go back to normal”
Meanwhile, the State Governor, Hope Uzodinma, during in a Channels TV interview on Thursday, said the issue at hand was in court and advised the aggrieved party to wait for the outcome of the suit.
He also said that residents could get petrol from the neighboring states of Anambra, Abia and Rivers State.
“The petroleum tankers…it’s just a very simple thing, people have chosen to do things that is not proper. A road contractor, not even during my regime destroyed some parts of a filling station at Orlu and the owner of the station took the contractor to court.
“Imo state government was just a party, the 4th defendant in the case.
“Ridiculously, a judge ordered that Imo State Government should pay the contractor some money in excess of 100 million.
“This case, Imo State Government is not the main defendant. However, this judgement was given during my time. What we did was to issue notice of appeal, applied for stay of execution.
“Then the owner of the gas station being a tanker driver took undue advantage of his relationship with the association and got the tanker drivers to embark on strike.
“How do you explain that. If we continue in this manner, one day the crayfish sellers will come together and embark on strike.
“I know that since the man was wise enough to go to court, he should be patient enough to until the end of the end of the litigation.
“Now that we have appealed, he should be patient enough to hear what the court of appeal will say.
“And then if it’s favorable to us, he can go to the supreme court. If it is not favorable to us, we can also go to supreme court.
“But the situation where I will sit down here and every association will now threaten and allow themselves to be used by the opposition politicians to embarrass government, I will not encourage that.
“It doesn’t take fifteen minutes to cross Mgbidi to Uli in Anambra for people to buy to Rivers State to Abia State. We are equi-distant with some neighboring states.
“So, I don’t think it’s something to break our head. I am appealing to them to interrogate their conscience and do the right thing by ensuring that they do their businesses too because by cutting the supply of fuel, they are also not doing their businesses and it’s just the poor people who are not able to travel out to buy fuel that the thing will affect.”