Employees’ request for remote work in Nigeria has been on the rise over lingering fuel scarcity that has doubled the cost of transportation in Lagos, the country’s commercial centre.
Cost-conscious Nigerians are cutting back on spending to survive the difficult moment of the cost of living crisis, especially on transportation costs when the trip is not too essential.
Workers whose work can be done from anywhere are pleading with their employers to grant the work from home option, or reduction in the number of days to work in the office, which became popular during the pandemic outbreak.
“I have been in this queue at an MRS filling station on the island for over three hours to get fuel for work tomorrow, and there’s no hope I’ll get it. I might have to request permission to work remotely tomorrow,” Bunmi Williams, a financial consultant at a top consultancy firm said.
Monday Ihemeson said he spent over 3 hours daily commuting to/from his home in Ikorodu to Lekki where his office is located since the fuel scarcity started.
“I was forced to work from home because I spend most of the productive hours on the road. It has been really frustrating and nobody is being held accountable for the fuel scarcity,”
Most employees like Ihemeson and Williams have been forced to ask for more days to work from home due to ongoing fuel scarcity and hike in fuel price that makes commuting both expensive and challenging.
Nigerians are suffering from long queues, that last hours and sometimes the whole day due to the country’s persistent fuel scarcity, which has lasted for over two months, and the price of petrol is beginning to eat deep into their pockets.
“Before the scarcity, I had just Thursdays as my work-from-home but for some time now I have worked from home on Tuesdays too because I do not have enough fuel to come four days a week,” said Emeka Ndubisi, a research analyst.
“I buy mostly from the Blackmarket which is two times the usual price, it’s either that or I queue the whole day trying to get fuel.”
The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Ltd said it is working to make the situation a thing of the past.
However, there has been little to no progress on that front as major oil marketers have called for the deregulation of the product.
BusinessDay findings revealed that some filling stations leave the pump price of petrol at N500 per litre. The average price of fuel currently is N250-N500, and stations that sell at the pre-scarcity price of N170 are always bombarded with customers.
“I think that employers should try to help their workers by going hybrid, especially those that are not vital, I tried getting fuel before coming to work,” Chimamanda Uzoka, a legal adviser to a pharmaceutical company said.
“It was N280, if I want to buy at N170 then I have to queue for hours at NNPC. Eventually, when I was able to get it, it was sold at N170 but the receipt said N185,” she explained how costly it has become to purchase the commodity.
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She said that even people who use public transport are affected because the fare has increased and the queue along the road causes heavy traffic making people get to work late and exhausted.
Mazino Oghenetega, an accountant shared that he had to review his budget for transportation due to the scarcity and fuel price hike.
Previously I spent N10,000 per week on fuel going to work, now I spend 15,000 making it N60,000 per month. This is half my salary, I don’t know how feasible it is to be at work physically.
“I’m considering asking my line manager for a day of the week to work from home,” he said.
For those using buses to commute, the situation is more difficult as the average price of transportation across the city has doubled.
Transportation from Pako to Oyigno which was N200 before has increased by 100 percent to N400; from Oyingbo to Apapa has gone up from N200 to between N300 and N400 depending on the time of the day.
From Costain to Apapa which was N200 is now N300. A trip from Ketu to Costain that cost N400 is now N600 and to Ojuelegba now costs N500 which was formerly N300.
Rebecca, a baker, explained how the increase in fuel prices affects other sectors of the economy, saying that prices of materials for producing bread had increased due to the cost of transporting raw materials and finished items to the market.