Would you rather spend money in buying a brand new engine or leave your car at home? Either take public transportation or carpool? Next time you want to buy fuel from that black market dealer, think well about this.
Today 28th of May 2015, as you go through many city and highway roads in Nigeria, there are several queues for Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise known as petrol, which is the primary fuel for motor vehicles and power generating sets in quite a number of homes.
There are also queues for diesel fuel as well, which people utilize for some vehicles and power generator plants in their homes and offices. These queues are as a result of the withholding of petroleum products by the PENGASSAN (Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria) and NUPENG (Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers) bodies who are constituted by oil marketers and oil suppliers. Thankfully, the strike of these bodies are over, and in due time, there would be petroleum products available all over the country. Nevertheless, due to the shortage of these products, a few people have made a killing from it, and are still doing so, with the sale of petrol and diesel products at exorbitant prices. These are called “Black Market” products, and as the name suggests, it is an “Illegal traffic or trade in officially controlled or scarce commodities”. In this case, this is due to a scarcity of the product, and people would pay as much as N500/litre for petroleum products and N400/litre for diesel fuel as to N85 and N135 for both products respectively.
In as much as the scarcity would make people desperate, some people have also taken advantage of that desperation to sell adulterated products to unsuspecting buyers, hence making a huge profit margin. Some of these “black market” operators even go as far as selling water to unwary people in the guise that they are being sold petrol.
Adulterated petrol could be mixed with a couple of products to add to the quantity. It is almost similar to how drug dealers add baking soda or rat poison to heroin to “double up” their products. For heroin users, baking soda has no adverse effect, but rat poison has grave side effects, which in some cases results to death. This is also similar to the products which are mixed with petroleum products. With the most common adulterant being Kerosine, other common adulterants include; Pentane, Hexane, Resol and many more. These adulterants mixed with petrol have adverse effects on not only the vehicles, but also on human life and the environment.
Dangers of adulterated fuel
- Performance of vehicle – Vehicle engines are designed to run on fuels with different specifications. Unfortunately, the petroleum products sold in Nigeria are not to the specifications of international standards, but they still make the vehicles run. Now, when this already low grade petrol is further adulterated, it brings about a decline in reliability and durability of the vehicle, which eventually affects the engine components of the vehicle, or cause vehicular road accidents.
- Engine malfunction – Due to the point above, prolonged adverse effects on the engine components will lead to a complete meltdown of the engine, eventually causing the engine of the supposed vehicle to knock.
- Health and environment problems – The combination of petrol and adulterants increases the amount of Carbon Dioxide produced from vehicles, which in turn are harmful to both human health and the environment.
In as much as we hope not to have another episode of fuel scarcity in the nation, it is something which is a regular occurrence. Purchasing of adulterated fuel from black market dealers is not worth the whole drama afterwards. There are quite a number of people who have to change their entire engines, costing nothing less than N100,000, and more, and quite a number of people in the hospitals, paying through their teeth for healthcare.
In the event of petrol scarcity, here are a few tips which could come in handy;
- Make sure you get as much petrol in your car and jerry cans (even though storing petrol in jerry cans is not exactly safe, but in these times, we are let with no other choice)
- Except when you are really hot, or carrying passengers who require air conditioning, do not switch on your air conditioning, as it will help conserve petrol.
- Plan your journeys, so that you consume less fuel and accomplish more tasks. Also, avoid routes which are prone to traffic (except that is your regular route home or to work).
- Do not let your car get to the point of using the reserve tank, as that makes you under pressure and desperate to purchase black market petrol.
- Look for friends/colleagues who you can carpool with.
- Walk/ride a bike to places you do not necessarily need a car to get to.
We hope this piece would help out in the event of another nationwide fuel scarcity. Also, we would appreciate your suggestions, reservations and contributions. Please, endeavor to share your thoughts in our comments section.