The unpopular deregulation of the price of petrol by the Federal Government of Nigeria has led to less traffic gridlock.
Now, this is in its own way good news for workers who hitherto had to commute long distances to work. Journeys that used to last for 1 hour now last for 20 minutes maximum in some places.
As a result, man-hours have reduced drastically, as people have more time to play with before heading to work. Wives are relieved that their husbands don’t have to leave too early to work unlike before.
The High Price Paid For This
But there is a high price that has been paid. As a result of the high price of petrol, so many people now pack their cars at home. They prefer to take public transport.
While this increase in demand may be good news for public transport businesses, the petrol stations in the country are really feeling the pinch. (Ironically, the independent petrol marketers are the ones that pressured Buhari’s government to deregulate the fuel price in the first place.)
But they have reported a 60% drop in patronage since they succeeded. As a result, their workers are at risk of being laid off, and their businesses are facing really troubled times.
Huge Economic Cost
While there has been a huge reduction in traffic gridlock as a result of this deregulation, there has also been a huge economic cost associated with it. Reduction in traffic gridlock should not come at such economic cost.
It should be as a result of a good transportation network, and excellent alternatives to private transport. Both factors are currently absent in Nigeria’s reality.
People should not be forced to pack their cars at home because of overbearing costs of maintaining them.
The solution is to deregulate the petroleum refinery sector. The government should legalize the thousands of mini petrol refineries littering the South, which they have classified as ‘illegal’. These refineries can save the petrol stations that are currently near collapse.
Come to think of it, if this gets real serious and petrol stations collapse tomorrow, it will cripple our transport system. (How will vehicles be able to get fuel?) The cause will then be a scarcity of petrol stations, not scarcity of petrol.
People would not be able to get to work if such should occur. And the government would be forced to bail out the stations. Does the government have that kind of money?
We can stop such scarcity from occurring.