-From SUNNY A. DAVID:
The Premium Motor Spirit, popularly known as petrol, is selling between N330 and N390 per litre in Onitsha, Nnewi, Awka and other parts of Anambra State.
The situation was like that at all the filling stations visited by our correspondent across the State, except at a filling station located at Tarzan, near Onitsha (name withheld) which was selling at N180 but with large queues of vehicles and customers scrambling for the product.
As a consequence, the cost of transportation and prices of commodities has sharply increased in the State.
This is just as travellers going to other parts of the South-East for the New Year celebration were made to pay as high as over 300 per cent in transportation fare.
Movements in and around Anambra were also affected as tricycle and shuttle buses increased their fares astronomically.
It was gathered that fares for intra-city shuttle and tricycle had increased by as much as 300 per cent as transporters now collect N300 for distances that cost N100, as commuters and commercial transport operators engage in hot arguments and quarrels.
For instance, a journey from Onitsha to Awka, which used to be N500, was increased to N1,500. Upper Iweka to the Main Market, Upper Iweka to Holy Trinity and others, which were formerly N100 went up to N300.
Our correspondent who went round major cities of Onitsha, Nnewi, Awka, Ekwulobia, on Saturday observed that motorists in the town expressed concern that the price of petrol had continued to rise without anybody coming to their rescue.
They accused marketers of arbitrarily hiking prices because of the Christmas and New Year celebrations.
A traveller, identified as Mama Chioma, who lives in Onitsha but travelling to Abakaliki in Ebonyi State, lamented that the increase in transport fare had put additional burden on the travellers and household items.
She called on the Federal Government to intervene in the petrol price issue and save the masses from unbearable hardship.
Another traveller and a trader in Nnewi, Mr. James Udo, who described the situation as very pathetic, blamed it on the greed and opportunistic nature of transport operators who see the Yuletide as a period to amass wealth.
In his response, a commercial driver with the Star Sunny Motors in Onitsha, Mr. Goddy Ikem, justified their actions, insisting that transport operators were now buying PMS at a very high price which has adversely affected their returns.
Ikem, in charge of Anambra, Ebonyi and Enugu States, said, “It is not our problem; the price we are charging is reflective of the high cost of buying petrol.
“This is even affecting us the more, but we have to remain in business to service our people, especially during this Yuletide period.
“The high amount we buy petrol now is even affecting our returns and our profits have dropped by about 50 per cent, commuters should understand our plight too and know that it is not our fault.”