Nigerians have, for close to one month, been subjected to spending hours on long unending queues at fuel stations just to purchase the precious Premium Motor Spirit – widely know as Petrol.
As the fuel crisis in the country lingers and the toll on the general populace becomes much more intense, Nigerians have been reduced to getting giddy with delight at the sight of petrol, the same way a leprechaun loses control at the sight of a ‘pot of gold’.
The feeling of buying fuel after queuing for several hours in the scorching African sun is now almost tantamount to the feeling of fulfillment after crossing the finish line in a marathon race.
Since the fuel scarcity began over a month ago, quite a number of daily activities have been hampered severely/crippled while many businesses have closed up shop.
The different sectors in the Nigerian socio-economic space are groaning under the weight of the crisis, that has not only made life difficult for Nigerians, but has also caused a significant drop in human productivity, huge strain on the economy, as well as affected health and food security.
Here are 5 key ripple effects of the prevalent fuel scarcity.
1. Traffic Congestion
Ordinarily, for a metropolis like Lagos, traffic gridlocks are not strange but the current scarcity of fuel has led to hours upon hours of traffic gridlocks.
Hundreds of vehicles all over the nation queue for fuel at any filling station that declares the product available.
These snake-like, sometimes winding queues spill over a very good distance away from the entrance of the fuel station and onto the main roads.
This scenario means that several vehicles in queues are parked along the side of the road -essentially limiting the number of vehicles that can drive through the width of the roads at every point in time.
The scarcity of fuel has adversely affected the economy of the country leading to an unprecedented inflation in the charges for basic goods and services.
Transport workers, because they are forced to buy fuel at very expensive rates in the black market, inflate their fares to balance up.
The actual prices of cost of transportation has also doubled.
The increase in the cost of transportation of goods by these traders has led to an increase in the price of the products offered in a bid to balance their books and still end up with some semblance of profit at the end of the day.
3. Alternative electricity
One thing that made it easy for Nigerians to accept the failure of the government to provide basic amenities like constant power supply over the years, is the ready-to-use generators, which are accessible to the populace.
Most of these generators run on petrol to provide the much needed power supply for Nigerians in the absence of constant electricity.
However, with the absence of this petrol to the citizens, Nigerians have increasingly found themselves in difficult situations especially with the blistering heat of the current weather.
Simple basic needs like using motorized fans, air-conditioners, vacuum cleaners, washing machines and other electric home appliances are hampered by the scarcity of fuel.
It has also become harder to prevent wastage of food and other products because of the lack of electricity and fuel to power refrigerators.
4. Health effects
Over the years, Nigerian hospitals have become renowned for poor delivery of healthcare to its citizenry, with several people opting to travel abroad for medical treatment while those who cannot afford such luxury make do with local health facilities that are marked with professional incompetence, lack of modern equipment, poor sanitary conditions, and disregard for optimal ethics and modern medical practices.
In addition to this and the endless strike actions –often embarked on by medical practitioners- is the equally painful situation of the lingering fuel crisis and the resultant poor delivery of electricity, or lack of it, thereof.
Faced with the problem of low allocation in the 2016 budget, corruption in the sector as well as poor management of existing facilities and equipment, public hospitals have to make do with allocations received from government in order to run the hospitals and provide power supply.
Considering the fact that power is a basic driver of our economy, the cost of healthcare service will increase as the cost of the petroleum products spikes.
It is left to the imagination how patients in critical conditions, babies in incubators, patients on life supports systems, accident victims, pregnant women, among others, can survive considering the absence of electricity and the difficulty in obtaining petroleum products.
Reports have also emerged in the past, of situations whereby medical practitioners carry out medical procedures and surgeries using phone torchlight and/or candles.
5. Manufacturing and Production
The Nigerian economy has always been plagued with the problem of importation of products into the country – and this has made Nigeria a country that is heavily dependent on importation since a vast majority of business owners and companies import their products rather than source locally.
The economy even appears to be more favorable for importation rather than domestic production. But with the problem of the falling price of crude oil in the international market and the resultant pressure on the economy, the country can only do so much to save itself from impending disaster.
Recently, however, there has been an increase in the push for domestic production of goods as well as consumption of made in Nigeria products so as to grow the naira and strengthen the falling economy of the country.
One then begins to question how such a drive will amount to much, considering the difficulty in purchasing petroleum products and a significant decrease in electricity supply.
It is of utmost importance that we bear in mind that for an increase in production; power is an integral part and the main driver of manufacturing – as little or nothing can be done without power.
Inadvertently, the lingering scarcity of fuel will result to an increase in the cost of production of goods and a leap in the price of products.
Furthermore, manufacturers, in an attempt to save cost, will recourse to cutting corners, thereby decreasing the quality of products or laying off workers.
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