Fuel scarcity has heightened in the capital city of Umuahia and the commercial nerve centre, Aba, forcing motorists and traders to call on the Federal Government to do something about the situation before it snowballs out of control.
In Umuahia and environs on Tuesday, a litre of petrol was dispensed at the cost of N175 to N190, coming down from its position late Monday that cost N200 per liter of fuel.
Throughout Monday, only very few fuel stations operated and preferred to sell their products only in the evening and early morning hours ostensibly to check the suspected visit of officers of the Department of Petroleum Resources, the enforcement arm of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation.
The product was not available throughout the commercial city of Aba Monday, but was seen at the very few fuel stations which dispensed fuel with long queues amid protest at the skyrocketing prices by the dealers, who claimed it had nothing to do with them.
In Umuahia, apart from the NNPC depot at Ohiya and Nkwoegwu along the Enugu/ Port Harcourt highway that dispensed at the pump price of N86, the other outlets sold at exorbitant prices to the chagrin of the buyers.
As a result of the hike the pump prices of petroleum products goods and services as well as transportation have also skyrocketed astronomically, causing clashes at various bus stations for the few buses that decided to operate at lower prices.
A vulcaniser at Mission Hill said the price for the gauging and pumping of air into tires was not N100 instead of the N30 to N50 they usually charge, insisting that the cost of operating the machine had increased due to the pump price of fuel.
The same was the experience at the various areas in the city of Umuahia such as Aba Road, Bende Road, Ikot Ekpene Road among others. The new prices have to clashes between motorists and the operators of the machines, in some areas leading to fisticuffs.
The prices of transportation has also increased from Umuahia to Aba and Back to Umuahia as some of the commercial vehicles from between N200 and N250 to N300 and N350 and this price is mostly by the vehicles owned by the Abia State Government.
Transportation within the Umuahia capital city as well as intra city transport in Aba has also increased with the keke Napep charging between N100 and N150 for a usual trip that use to cost between N50 and N70.
The short journey from Ishi Gate in the Umuahia City Centre to the Ubani-Ibeku Ultra International Market now cost N100 and this in turn has led to the increase in the prices of foodstuffs.
Our Correspondent was told that a bag of rice is now selling for between N14,000 to N18,000, while condiments of three N20 is now N50 with the prices of beef and vegetables also increasing.
Some of the respondents who spoke on the issue lamented the increase and unavailability if the product, saying that any increase in the pump price will also snowball into an increase in goods and services.
Nnenna Igbuaku, a trader in Umuahia said most traders have refused to open their shops because they could either not afford the price of transportation or could not even find the vehicle to transport them to their business premises, adding that the issue was getting out of hand.