Our correspondent reports that residents of border communities in Katsina were suffering the brunt of the ongoing border closure and the recent ban on the sale of petroleum products.
Between Daura and Kongolam, a town that shares border with Niger Republic, no fewer than 20 petrol stations are out of business while many of their workers have been thrown back to the labour market.
In Jibia, there are over 70 petrol stations that have closed up with each having over 15 people as direct workers. Most of those affected by the closure are fuel pump attendants, cashiers and mechanics.
Some people spoken to said life was becoming more unbearable for the border communities as many have to buy the commodity at exorbitant prices which has equally led to rise in the prices of food items and other consumables.
A petroleum marketer, Aminu Lawal, said: “This is just going to further impoverish our people who are Nigerians and found themselves living at the borders.”
Daily Trust reports that following the directive, residents have to travel to towns along Kazaure road to buy petrol or settle for black marketers who were having a field day selling the commodity at between N350 and N400 per litre.
On the other side, petrol now cost at least N700 per litre in communities on the Nigerien side. Hundreds of youths spent several hours overnight using motorcycles to convey petroleum products loaded in jerry cans across the border.
“Petrol is now more lucrative than rice,” said Mahe Abubakar, a 20-year-old diploma holder.
“We sleep during the day and go out for petrol business at night. We see the deal as legitimate because there is no alternative…We go to as far as Kazaure to buy the fuel and bring it to Kongolam in buses. We then fill jerrycans, load them on our motorcycles and cross the border. It is a priceless commodity now,” he said.
“While we appreciate the effort of government towards making us selfsufficient, there should have been some mitigating measures. I think it is wrong to ban selling the fuel around the borders completely; why not restrict the supply to certain quantity and then put an eye on how the stations discharge them?
“Up till eternity the border communities would be there, does that mean the people there would never enjoy the benefit of being Nigerians?” he asked.