Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Got petrol?

Lagos is in the midst of a big gasoline shortage right now. Interestingly enough, its a direct result of the same "get tough" approach by the Fashola government I have been writing about.

Its very common to see tractor trailers and fuel trucks lined up along the expressway here, especially near the port. I never understood why they parked there (their companies don't provide parking lots?) but never gave it much thought.

Well, last week, the Fashola government impounded a bunch of these illegally-parked tankers and arrested the drivers. In response, the drivers went on strike, demanding the return of the vehicles and refusing to pay any fines or deliver any fuel in the meantime. The two sides are now at a stand-off, leading to a gas shortage and scrums at filling stations like this:

I don't like to see people inconvenienced, but frankly I don't think a little gas shortage is such a bad thing. Anything to wean the country off its addiction to petroleum. The government gets more than 80% of its revenues from the oil industry, creating all kinds of problems, and subsidized gasoline is considered a birthrite.

UPDATE: Crisis averted: aparently the oil companies stepped in.

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