By David Akinmola
Long fuel queues are still happening and experienced in Nigeria’s major cities as stations with products are now facing a new challenge- scarcity of the naira.
Following the Central Bank of Nigeria directive that old higher denominations of N1000 and N500 should be withdrawn from circulation and returned the same to the apex bank after it redesigned the currencies, scarcity of the new notes is adding to the challenges as fuel stations refuse collection of old notes.
According to the investigation, several petrol stations across Lagos, and Ogun have products but an inability to effect payment due to the high volume of failed bank transfers and shortage of the new naira notes has seen many vehicles trapped in long queues.
A video circulating on the internet of a driver complaining at a fuel station over the refusal of the attendant to take old notes from him surfaced vividly showing the situation in many petrol stations.
They have stopped taking the old notes as a form of payment and this is what my passengers paid me with.
What am I supposed to do, the new notes are not in circulation,” said a driver in the video.
The driver called on the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to revisit the policy as it’s biting deeper into their operations.
President Muhammadu Buhari recently told the CBN to release the old N200 note into circulation until April 10, 2023, when it will stop being a legal tender.
He said all existing old N1000 and N500 notes are still redeemable at the CBN and designated points, but not at banks.
While going cashless seems like the only option for getting petrol at fuel stations, the point of sale (POS) platform is also failing, leaving many Nigerians stranded and frustrated he said.
“I don’t know what the government wants from us,” said Moshood Raji, a commercial driver in Akure.
“I’ve gone to three fuel stations and their POS machines are down.”
Raji said it’s no longer fuel scarcity but paying for fuel bought that’s leading to the recent queues in the town.
“My friend was my saving grace, I’d gone back home without fuel and cash,” he said.
On the back of the cash crunch and POS failure, we observed that Tinpet and Saitaru fuel stations in the Orile Iganmu area of Lagos have shut down their petrol pump.
“Sales are down and it’s affecting the business. We can’t take the old notes and the POS is not reliable,” according to a staff member who asked to be anonymous to avoid being a target.
They said that the situation will get better if the POS platform is stable and there is the circulation of the country’s legal tender.
However, there have been complaints of fuel stations intentionally shutting down the use of POS to foster exploitation.
“They now add 50 on sales made and refuse to give value for money. For example, they’ll short you by 0.5 litres when you buy fuel at some stations,” said Ayobami Ibukunoluwa.