By Jonathan Ugbal
The fuel scarcity in Calabar, the Cross River State capital continued Wednesday with residents purchasing a liter of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) for as high as NGN500 CrossRiverWatch authoritatively reports.
The price skyrocketed within 3 hours following an artificial scarcity caused by a face-off between the Cross River State chapter of the Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (PMAN) and the state government over issues of taxation.
Black marketers across the city were now selling the product for NGN500 per liter as at 11:00 AM in the morning after previously selling NGN250 on Tuesday night, NGN300 on Wednesday morning and NGN400 per liter between 9:00 AM and 10:00 AM.
This has grounded movement to a halt, with major streets in the state capital seen very little activity in terms of vehicular movement.
“My brother this government and their tax will not kill us, let them settle with the petroleum tanker people so that we will have fuel. I cannot buy one liter for NGN500 and carry a drop NGN100. I no go mek gain?” said Anietie Ekanem who hails from Akwa Ibom but has been a taxi driver in Calabar for more than 4 years.
CrossRiverWatch gathered that PMAN was supposed to meet with the Deputy Governor, Professor Ivara Esu but as at press time, it was unclear if the meeting held.
But, Government officials have blamed the artificial scarcity on forces which do not want the growth of Cross River State despite the effort of the Governor, Senator Ben Ayade to increase internally generated revenue.
“His (Ayade) drive to enhance the state’s revenue base has however, often met with stubborn and belligerent resistance from some segments of the business public. The current withdrawal of services by Petroleum Tank Farm Owners, the Petroleum Tankers Drivers Association and others is one clear example.
“UNICEM has over the years been paying road maintenance levy, which assists the state to maintain its road infrastructure. However, efforts to get operators of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry to act responsibly in similar manner is what has led to the withdrawal of services by the group.
“The question that is begging for an answer is: is it no longer worthy that what is sauce for the goose no longer sauce for the gander? If UNICEM and other such entities are paying this levy to help the state stay afloat, what is wrong with the operators in the petroleum sub-sector doing same?
“Every day, thousands of trucks enter Calabar to lift petroleum products to several states. The damage done on the roads is incalculable. It is, rather ironic that elsewhere, such levies are compliantly being paid to state governments where tank farms are sited. So why the outrage from operators in Cross River?
“No doubt, this systemic institutional shortchange ha become a matter of deliberate effort to stifle our collective drive to grow our local economy. So, paying a levy to ensure the state keeps the road motorable should not induce a call to arms. Rather, it is a time for all to pull together in one direction. Failing to do this, the fate that has befallen Apapa in Lagos, awaits us,” read a sponsored statement from the Press Unit of Government House Calabar.
Also, the former military administrator of Kwara State and Chairman of the Cross River At 50 planning committee, Colonel PAM Ogar (rtd) at the inter-denominational service to kick off activities to commemorate the state at 50 wondered why the players in the downstream sector choosed to strike at this moment and attributed it to sabotage.
Since You Are Here, Support Good Journalism
CrossRiverWatch was founded on the ideals of deploying tech tools to report in an ethical manner, news, views and analysis with a narrative that ensures transparency in governance, a good society and an accountable democracy.
Everyone appreciates good journalism but it costs a lot of money. Nonetheless, it cannot be sacrificed on the altar of news commercialisation.
Consider making a modest contribution to support CrossRiverWatch's journalism of credibility and integrity in order to ensure that all have continuous free access to our noble endeavor.