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02 November 2009 

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Nigerian Commuters Rush to Petrol Stations As Fuel Prices Rise

02 November 2009

Long lines are forming outside fuel stations in several Nigerian cities as the government increase in oil prices goes into effect.  

“Many of the gas stations are witnessing some elements of confusion,” and panic buying has led to car accidents, says Sina Loremikan, southwest coordinator of Zero Corruption Coalition, a Lagos-based anti-graft organization.

The fuel price increase, he says, is another example of government’s insensitivity to the problems of poor Nigerians during a time of mass unemployment and widespread poverty.

A city street in Lagos is crowded with people and traffic
A city street in Lagos is crowded with people and traffic

The action will further burden struggling families and commuters, according to the Nigerian Labor Congress.  

The government sees things differently. The policy will make the oil sector more efficient and save money for re-building crumbling infrastructure, say administration officials. The policy, they say, will increase efficiency in oil operations and save money for development.  

The government spends huge amounts subsidizing gas and other petroleum products, it says, and adds that they are still within the reach of the poor.

But Loremikan says government claims that Nigerians pay less for fuel compared with people in other parts of the world is an attempt to justify the continued suffering of the people.

“It is not a new debate from the state actors. They keep repeating that all the time and give the impression that there is subsidy somewhere that they want to remove and take other sectors for further development. The reality of it is that they are all deceits. And even if government is right, I don’t think it is too much for Nigerians to have the cheapest fuel in the [world].”

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