How Oil Tanker Drivers Have Shut Down Africa’s Largest Economy

May 25, 2015

Airlines in Nigeria said on Saturday they had been forced to cancel flights due to lack of fuels, as motorist across the west African nation queued for hours to get a few litters of the commodity.

This was a culmination of a two-week strike by oil tanker drivers and other industry workers over unpaid government debt they claim amounts to $1 billion.

A slump in the local currency, the naira, and a tumble in oil prices globally have caused a credit criss in Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer, making it difficult for the government to honor some of its recurring expenditures.

Despite producing more than 2 million barrels of petroleum a day, the country still imports refined fuel products since it does not have enough crude oil refining capacity at home.

Local airlines, including one of Nigeria’s largest private carrier,Aero Contractors, were grounded on Sartuday at the Murtala Muhammad International Airport  in Lagos causing chaos as stranded passengers tried to find alternative ways to get to their destinations.

International airlines were re-routed in and out of Nigeria to pick up aviation fuel. Virgin Atlantic flights from Lagos to London Heathrow was diverted to Ghana’s capital Accra and Majorca off southern Spain, while Air France services from Paris stopped in Dakar, Daily Independent quote passengers on these flights saying.

Soldiers were deployed to the few petrol stations that still had some fuel to contain crowds that were threatening to turn violent.

Telecommunication companies operating in the country including MTN Group and Etisalat have said it is becoming increasingly difficult to operate their diesel power towers as the fuel crisis bites and could leave their subscriber with no mobile or internet connection, the Daily Independent reported.

“If diesel supplies are not received within the next 24 hours the network will be seriously degraded and customers will feel the impact,” MTN warned on its Twitter on Saturday.

According to AP, several radio stations that depend on diesel to power their generators went dead over the weakened.

Source: AFK Insider

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