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Likely impacts of lingering fuel scarcity on Christmas travels

Nigerians love to travel during the Christmas holidays. Some go on interstate vacations with their families, while others use the festive period to attend family functions and reconnect with loved ones in their villages.

Sammie, an artisan, told Nairametrics that he loves leaving Abuja to travel to the Eastern part of the country where he hails from, so as to spend time with his widowed mum and grandparents.

  • For Sammie, it has become a tradition for him to leave the hustling life in the big city and go home where the food is all natural and he gets to see all his loved ones and rest from the noisy life in the big city.
  • However, Sammie says this year, he may not be able to travel to the East due to the astronomical rise in interstate road transportation fares as a result of the fuel scarcity that has besieged various parts of the country since Q3/2022.
  • According to Sammie’s findings, the cost of a one-way bus ticket from Abuja city centre to his location in Ekwulobia in Anambra state is between N16,000 to N21,000 per person as of December 16, and he cannot afford that unless he works some more jobs until December 24. He however notes that as December 25 draws nearer, the cost will increase even further.

A Nairametrics survey from Okeyson, God is Good Motors, Cross Country, and ABC Motors on the average road travel costs from Abuja to some cities finds that as of December 16:

  • Lagos to Port Harcourt – N27,0000
  • Abuja to Calabar – N25,000
  • Lagos to Benin – N24,000
  • Abuja to Lagos – N18,000
  • Benin to Abuja – N24,000
  • Abuja to Enugu – N15,000
  • Abuja to Anambra – N16,000
  • Lagos to Onitsha – N26,500
  • Abuja to Benin – N20,000

It is instructive to note that these prices differ based on vehicle size (coach buses, 18-seater buses, or sienna vehicles), air-conditioned or non-air-conditioned vehicles, and bus stop locations.

Is the pricing due to fuel scarcity? Sammie does not believe so. According to him, the increase in road transport costs especially to the East has little to do with fuel scarcity. He believes that Nigerians love to make life hard for other Nigerians just to make more money. He said:

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  • “I know that in Abuja, people are finding it easier to get fuel now unlike before. I don’t know about other states. I don’t understand why the costs are still very high. People just want to make more money because it is the Christmas period. By January, all the prices will come down.”

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Fuel queues have disappeared in Abuja: A survey was carried out by Nairametrics this week and it was discovered that fuel queues in the city have reduced and motorists can get fuel easier today than it was two weeks ago.

  • However, some motorists still complain about price variations. Samantha who works at a microfinance bank loves to buy fuel from NNPC filling stations because they sell at the official price. However, the queues are longer than at regular filling stations and she has no choice but to buy where the queues are less so she can be productive with her time.

In Lagos, there are still pockets of fuel scarcity: Sehinde Kolawole, a Lagos resident told Nairametrics that as of December 16, some areas in Lagos are still experiencing fuel scarcity. He is not sure of other locations but he says some Ikeja residents still find it difficult to get fuel as some stations are not selling.

  • One thing he is sure of, however, is the high transportation fare costs which have not been reduced. He told Nairametrics that this situation is still making life difficult for Lagosians.

Impact on interstate road transportation fares: Nairametrics spoke to a staff of a popular transportation company, God is Good Motors (GIGM), who pled anonymity. The staff told our correspondent that the increase in cost between various routes is due to the current inflation in the country. According to the GIGM staff, the company spends a fortune on various necessities which will factor into transportation fares at the end of the day. The GIGM staff said:

  • “The vehicles need to be serviced before they are put on the road, the drivers need to be paid and fed, and the customers need the utmost comfort while on the road. We are paying a lot of money to make all these happen. Everything is costly now – food, fuel, vehicle parts, the prices are very different from what they used to be six months ago. 
  • As for fuel, the scarcity which has been playing out for the last few months does not occur uniformly. Sometimes, our drivers can get fuel easily from one location and may not be able to access it when the need arises in another location. So, all these inconveniences are structured into costs. It is what it is.” 

Airlines are also feeling the heat: On December 7, Air Peace issued an advisory to passengers saying they could experience flight delays as the airline was battling with fuel scarcity issues.

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Jet fuel scarcity is impacting airfare costs as well. As of December 17, a one-way ticket for a single adult to fly Air Peace from Abuja to Anambra cost N100,000. Meanwhile, a return ticket for the same route in December will cost an average of N175,000 for a single adult.

  • The Morah family resides in Abuja and loves to travel by air every December to their location in Enugu state for the Christmas holidays. According to Mrs Morah, the flight costs are higher but avoiding the dangers of road travel make it worthwhile for her family. She also admits that the cost this year will cause a big dent in the family purse given the high costs of goods and services.
  • The Morah family which consists of the parents and two children already has their one-way flight tickets booked for Abuja to Enugu. According to their itinerary, they will be spending up to N400,000 for that single trip.

In case you missed it: In November 2022, Nairametrics reported that Jet A1, otherwise known as aviation fuel, had hit N780 per litre at the Lagos Airport.

  • According to the report, there was an increased scarcity of the product in other parts of the country, especially at northern airports.
  • The report noted that outside of Lagos, jet fuel was being sold at N800 and above per litre, especially at airports in the northern part of the country.
  • Bala Wunti, the Chief Upstream Investment Officer (CUIO) at the NNPC Upstream Investment Management Services (NUIMS) had previously said that the fuel scarcity that has hampered citizens’ productivity in recent years is mostly associated with distribution challenges and not supply.

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