Ben Ezechime, Enugu
The continued rise in prices of petrol and the artificial scarcity of the product in parts of Enugu State have taken a different dimension, as residents of Nsukka on Friday embarked on a peaceful protest over the shutting down of filling stations by their owners.
Ikengaonline learnt from the protesters that their grouse was that owners of the filling stations shut down their stations without giving any reasons or explanations to the public.
The protesters numbering about 2000 comprised commercial motorcyclists, popularly called ‘okada riders,’ tricycle operators (Keke), students, and other concerned residents.
The peaceful protesters blocked the busy Nsukka Total Roundabout, thereby causing heavy traffic gridlock.
The roads affected by the gridlock included University road; Odenigbo road; and the Enugu road.
The protesters threatened the station owners to open their stations and start dispensing petrol to the public or risk their stations being set ablaze.
Speaking to Ikengaonline, a protester, Mr Cosmos Agbo, claimed that the action of the marketers has pushed price of petrol to as high as N1000 per litre by black marketers.
“I joined this protest because I believe all of us are suffering the same fate and the owners did not give any reasons for the closure.
“People are sleeping in the Banks to get new naira notes and now petroleum marketers want to compound our problems.
“Again, who supplied petrol to the black marketers, obviously they are,” he said.
An okada rider and one of the protesters, Mr Ephraim Eze, said the protest was not planned but started spontaneously due to anger and frustration of the people.
According to him, a few of them, okada and tricycle operators, who could not see anywhere to buy petrol began protesting before other residents joined.
“We have no leader in this protest because it is not a planned protest.
“This protest is to reject the selling of a litre of petrol by black marketers at N1,000 because marketers closed their filling stations.
“Those in authority should remember the poor people in this country who are suffering on a daily basis,” Eze said.
The protest also led to many long distance Transporters and commuters stranded at various motor parks in the town.
A driver of Sienna bus plying Nsukka-Enugu, Mr Maxwell Okeke, expressed shock and disappointment over the sudden protest.
“This thing shocked me. Just as I came out this morning and was about to load my vehicle, the whole place became rowdy,” he said.
Miss Grace Ugwueze, a passenger in one of the vehicles stranded because of the protest, begged the protesters to allow vehicles to move.
“We know what they are protesting is in everybody’s interest but they should not block the roads,” Ugwueze said.
Meanwhile, the timely intervention of policemen from the Nsukka Divisional Police Station, helped to prevent the situation from degenerating further.
Ikengaonline understands from an anonymous petrol station manager that they scheduled a meeting hence the total closure of stations.