Faced with sharp practices at filling stations, Nigerians turn to black market operators for kerosene for their cooking
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Mar. 4, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
BLACK market in Nigeria is an illegal business and a source of worry to the government. The usage of the expression usually becomes popular whenever there is scarcity of fuel or kerosene in the country. People who engage in this business take the advantage of the scarcity to rip off Nigerians. But the business continues to boom even when the petroleum products are available in the filling stations. Some Nigerians express the reasons why they prefer buying petroleum products from the black market operators.
Mama Remedy, a businesswoman in Lagos, is one of those happy with buying kerosene from the black market. She said that she preferred to buy from the black market because the filling stations sell the product above the recommended price and because of the non-availability of the product at the filling stations.
“Kerosene is an essential commodity, it is central to our living as Nigerians and since government wants us to pay a high price before getting the product, it is better for us to buy from those we trust. I prefer to buy from the black market because if you buy a five-litre gallon from there, you know that it is truly five litres rather than buying from the filling station where they will cheat you,” she said.
Angelina Kelechi, a public servant in Lagos, is another person who is comfortable with the situation. Kelechi could not recall when last she bought kerosene from a filling station because she has been depending more on the black market. “The scarcity of kerosene has forced many consumers to depend on black marketers for their supplies. I found it annoying that you buy kerosene at almost the same price you buy at the filling station,” she said.
Realnews investigations have revealed that a lot of people indeed, patronise kerosene black marketers on a daily basis. Mama Ayo, a black market operator, in Ikotun, Lagos, said selling the product has helped her in training her children as a single parent. “This is what I do for a living. I sell a litre of kerosene between N120 and N130, and a five litre gallon is N650 and N700. If you can stay until evening you would see the number of people that come here to buy kerosene. This is my business and I don’t tell people how and where I buy it from, please,” she said.
Samni Kayode, another black market operator in Lagos, said he started the business five years ago and it has become his only source of livelihood. He explained that he normally buys the kerosene from the NNPC filling station and sells to users at a moderate price. “One of the greatest problems of this country is youth unemployment. Some of us have been looking for elusive jobs for the past five years. In an atmosphere of joblessness, an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. So the only alternative for me is to devise a means of living no matter its oddity, to escape the stress of idleness. I sell a litre for N120 which is the price at many filling stations today,” he said.
Kayode said a lot of people buy kerosene from the black market because they believe that when they buy a litre of kerosene, it’s a litre. “A litre here remains a litre, no adjustment of the dispensing machine like in the filling stations. What many Nigerians need is somebody they would trust, because a five-litre gallon of kerosene here is N650 but that amount will not fill a gallon at filling stations,” he said.
A pomp attendant at a filling station in Lagos, who wishes anonymity, said the station sells at N130 per litre. She argued that only NNPC filling stations could afford to sell at the regulated price of N50. “We always have kerosene and we sell at N130. People always come to buy from us. Every filling station around here has kerosene. The NNPC is the only outlet selling at N50 but you will find it difficult to get kerosene there,” she said.