Commuters across Lagos returned on Wednesday from the holidays facing higher-than-normal transport fares as lingering petrol scarcity forced commercial bus operators that paid above the government-regulated pump price to jack up the fares.
Our reporters witnessed scenes of commuters haggling with bus operators over bus fares that in some cases rose by over 50 percent on popular routes across the state.
Petrol stations selling at the official price of N165 are seeing long lines of vehicles snaking up major highways while fewer queues were seen in stations selling between N200 and N250 per litre across the state.
BusinessDay gathered that transport fares across various parts of Lagos and Abuja had doubled and had maintained a 50 percent hike due to the lingering scarcity of petrol while some routes witnessed hikes as high as 100 percent.
A commercial transport operator who plies the Festac/Satellite route in Lagos State said that motorists were struggling with not only a significant increase in the price of petrol, but also great difficulty in accessing the product.
“I will only carry people who will pay the current transport fare to their area because there is no fuel to buy and if my vehicle spoils when carrying them, I am the one to suffer it,” he said.
A passenger who identified himself as Moses said that in his area of Satellite Town, the transport fare to Alakija, Festac had risen to N300 from N150.
The lingering fuel scarcity has been the major factor contributing to the hike in transport costs. Yet in Lagos, on Wednesday, bad roads worsened by the incessant rains snarled traffic across major highways.
Enquires show that the same pattern is seen across many other states in Nigeria. The price of a litre seemed to have been pegged at N200/litre across petrol stations without fewer queues in Abuja.
But the NNPC stations and those of other operators sited inside the Central Business District still retail at the official rate of N165/litre for fear that regulators would clamp down on them.
To beat regulatory oversight in Lagos and other cities, petrol stations advertised the official rate on their display boards but inform vehicle owners who drive to buy petrol that the real price is N200/litre or more.
In Yenagoa, Bayelsa State and other cities in the South-South region, petrol is still sold above N165/litre.
Petrol stations in states like Delta are selling at N180/litre and petrol stations in the GRA area of Benin City, Edo State have been selling at N176/litre over the past few weeks while maintaining the same transportation costs to various destinations within the state.
It was also observed that quite a number of petrol stations in Lagos remained closed for business on Wednesday, apparently due to the unavailability of the product.
Also, those petrol stations that were supplying the product to motorists in Lagos had long queues as motorists jostled to buy the product, especially along major roads in Lagos like Third Gate, Alakija, where TotalEnergies petrol station is situated.