By Ikenna Obianeri
There was massive anger in Anambra State on Tuesday as commuters and motorists were hit by the sudden hike in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit otherwise known as petrol from N530 to N700.
This is just as motorists and other users of the product besieged various petrol stations and were buying the product in larger quantities in anticipation that the price might shut up to N800 from Wednesday.
Our correspondent gathered that the petrol stations in the major cities of Onitsha, Nnewi and Awka sold the product at N530 per litre as of Tuesday morning before news of the current increase in pump price filtered into town.
The anxiety began earlier on in the afternoon when independent oil marketers operating in the state suddenly shut their filling stations and refused to sell for some hours when the news of the increment had filtered in.
The marketers were said to have resumed operations later in the evening after their emergency meeting in Awka and quickly adjusted their pump prices to reflect the new price regime.
As a result of the development, transportation fares suddenly soared above 30 per cent as commuters paid N300 for a journey that they paid N200 in the morning.
Commuters who were taken by surprise became stranded as those who could not afford the new price template were seen trekking to their various destinations in anger.
Checks revealed that filling stations operating along the Upper Iweka along the Onitsha-Owerri Road in Onitsha were selling at N700 per litre.
However, NNPCL facilities located along the Awka-Enugu Road and other marketers were seen selling the product between N620 to N650 per litre while it was N690 at some filling stations in Nnewi.
It was observed that some of the independent sales outlets had earlier closed for business in anticipation to sell higher from Wednesday.
A manager at a petrol station in Onitsha(name withheld) said, “We received a call from a sister petrol station informing us to suspend operations temporarily and be ready to adjust our meter to reflect the new price that the pump price has been increased by the NNPCL.
“We did not sell fuel Monday because of sit-at-home, but by today(Tuesday), we were selling at N530 before the call came for us to suspend operations pending further developments. And later our head office communicated to us to adjust to N700.”
Reacting to the development, a commercial transport operator in Onitsha, who identified himself as Chukwudi, said, “I am filling up my tank and also buying in Jerry cans so as to keep it and use it for some days because we are suspecting that the price might shoot up N800 by tomorrow.
“This suffering is just too much. This is not what we bargained for. We have no choice than to increase the prices of transportation. I can see many people trekking, they should prepare to trek more tomorrow because that is what the situation has caused.”