A months-long fuel shortage has led to gradual grounding of flights, starting from today, of the Nigerian Airlines.
Reports reaching us showed that many flights were cancelled today at the Murtala Muhammad International Airport Lagos, even as a passenger Twitted: “all flights suspended or canceled. No fuel. Been sitting here since 6 a.m.”
Aero Contractors airline spokesman, Simon Tunde said he did not know how many flights were canceled. The airline’s website carried an apology saying “Due to the current scarcity of Jet-A1 fuel … all our flights will not operate regularly as scheduled.”
Last week, passengers said that Air France and Kenya Airways flights diverted to Dakar, Senegal and Cotonou, Benin, to refuel on their way to Paris and Nairobi because no fuel was available in Lagos.
Nigeria produces more than 2 million barrels of petroleum a day but must import the refined fuel because it does not have enough functioning refineries. It regularly suffers fuel shortages but nothing as severe as the current countrywide crisis.
The crisis started weeks before the March 28 elections, with oil suppliers hit by tightened credit lines amid halved international oil prices, a slump in the naira currency, and unpaid government debts the suppliers claim amount to nearly $1 billion.
President Goodluck Jonathan lost the elections and suppliers fear the debt will not be honored by the incoming administration of Muhammadu Buhari, who pledged to fight endemic corruption.
Some of the alleged debt involves fuel subsidies that opponents say are a scam that benefited oil suppliers and corrupt government officials with no reduced costs passed on to ordinary Nigerians. [myad]