News / Africa

Fuel Scarcity Leaves Nigerian Capital Reeling

One of the few gas stations open in Abuja on August 23, 2012. Motorists said they waited at least 13 hours to make it to the front of the line.
One of the few gas stations open in Abuja on August 23, 2012. Motorists said they waited at least 13 hours to make it to the front of the line.
Heather Murdock
ABUJA —  A week after Nigerian oil unions stopped delivering fuel to the capital, Abuja is reeling. Union leaders in the oil industry said the move is intended to strike at the government where it hurts the most - in the capital where they live. Union leaders are upset over the withholding of subsidy payments to importers because of suspected fraud. Average Nigerians said the elite in Abuja have plenty of fuel, while taxis and bus riders are left stranded.

On most days, this is one of Abuja’s busiest thoroughfares and taxi drivers crowd around this mall entrance, ready to take shoppers to their homes.  
 
Today, a week after the unions stopped fuel deliveries to private gas stations in Abuja, the traffic is sparse, and only a few drivers mill around, appearing listless with nothing to do.

Grinding to a halt
 
Julius Ilochi, a taxi driver and father of three, said life in Abuja is slowly grinding to a halt. “Everybody’s suffering because you can’t go to work. You can’t go to anything," he complained. "We stay in the filling station throughout the night and throughout the day doing nothing. There is no fuel.”

Union leaders said the strike on Abuja is intended to force the government to pay back wages to workers and make fuel subsidy payments that were stopped earlier this year, after a report revealed widespread fraudulent use of the subsidy by fuel importers.  
 
Across town from the mall, is one of the few parts of Abuja that is still crowded.

While almost every other gas station is empty, these two stations have lines that stretch out for roughly a kilometer in every direction.  
 
After 13 hours of waiting in line, Rowland Nwaokeleme, a 28-year-old aspiring engineer, said the “big men” in the capital aren’t hurt by the fuel scarcity.

Fuel rich and poor
 
"The elite, those who have relevance in this society, you know most of them have friends who own fuel stations," he said. "They actually do have friends and relatives who can easily tell them: ‘You don’t have to queue, just come to my place. I will help you.’"

The rich, he said, have storage of fuel at home or can afford to fill their tanks and generators at black market prices, which are three to five times higher than the pump price.
 
Inside the gas station, Operations Supervisor Steve Yohanna said he is not sure how long he can serve the people if the government and unions don’t come to an agreement. In the meantime, he is on the front line of maintaining order in the face of growing anger about the scarcity.    
 
“I know what I’m facing in controlling this place. I know what I’m facing in making this place to be like this," he said. "In fact, I don’t sleep. Every time I go into my bed I think of how to operate the next morning.”

The union is threatening to make the strike nationwide if the subsidy payments are not made by the government.  
 
The government, meanwhile, has labeled officials of the various fuel importing companies the “puppeteers” of the crisis, saying their only real concern is obtaining fraudulent subsidy payments.    
 
If this is the case, it puts the government in a bind. It has promised the people it will stop giving public funds to allegedly crooked oil companies, but at the same time, the country needs fuel to function.

You May Like

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More