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Fuel shortages hit Adamawa, Taraba as petrol stations protest Customs crackdown

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Nigeria’s northeast is facing a petrol crisis after nearly 2,000 petrol stations abruptly shut down in protest against an anti-smuggling operation by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).

The move, initiated by the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), has forced motorists to turn to the black market for fuel at significantly inflated prices.

According to IPMAN chairman for Adamawa and Taraba states, Dahiru Buba the shutdown stems from the Customs impounding tanker trucks and closing fuel stations suspected of smuggling petrol across the border to Cameroon.

This comes after a previous incident where trucks were seized and later released following protests from IPMAN.

The resurgence of the black market highlights the complexities of Nigeria’s fuel subsidy reforms. While scrapping subsidies in 2023 initially choked off cross-border smuggling, the recent price capping implemented in June 2023, coupled with a weakening Nigerian currency, has reignited the illicit trade.

READ ALSO: Nigeria’s electricity DisCos see 17% revenue surge in Q1 2024, NBS reports

Buba claims the Customs actions are unfairly targeting legitimate businesses. “This is our business, and we cannot be quiet when our members are treated this way,” he stated, emphasizing the impact on over 1,800 IPMAN outlets.

The Customs, however, maintains its position. A spokesperson for Adamawa and Taraba customs, Mangsi Lazarus defends the seizures, asserting the targeted tanker trucks were involved in smuggling activities.

The current standoff leaves Nigerian consumers in a precarious position. With petrol stations closed, black market vendors are capitalizing on the situation, selling fuel at nearly double the official pump price.

This price hike is likely to disproportionately impact lower-income Nigerians who rely on affordable transportation.

A swift resolution between IPMAN and the Cusstoms is crucial to restore normalcy to the fuel market and alleviate the burden on Nigerian consumers. Whether a compromise can be reached or if the shutdown persists remains to be seen. ~With agency report

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