Customers queuing to buy petrol on Wednesday at a filling station in Abuja were left distraught after learning that the fluid the pumps at the station were dispensing into their vehicles was not fuel.
The drama occurred at the Azman Oil and Gas Ltd at Wuse Zone 5, Abuja, where motorists rushed to buy fuel just as the government announced a reversal of its plan to stop paying fuel subsidy this year.
A PREMIUM TIMES reporter who was at the petrol station Wednesday afternoon to report how fuel queues remained in the city even after the government’s announcement, saw motorists yelling at the station’s attendants, accusing them of delivering water into their tanks.
The station’s personnel said they were equally shocked at the turn of events as they had never witnessed such a situation. They pleaded with motorists, many who said their cars had been damaged and had failed to start.
A civil servant who gave his name as Chidi told PREMIUM TIMES, “If you check my vehicle, my fuel is low and I need to refill, I went for afternoon mass (church service) and on my way back to my office, I noticed that these people are selling fuel so I just entered to buy fuel but we met another problem, what they have been dispensing here is not fuel but water.”
“Most of the people that bought fuel, on their way out, their cars are parked on the road, they couldn’t move,” he said.
Another government worker, Eric Mario, said he just bought N5,000 water instead of fuel.
“My office is close by here, I just felt I should come during my lunch period to get fuel and when I came to this filling station I was kind of happy because the queue wasn’t much and I joined the queue like a normal Nigerian, and within 10 minutes it got to my turn and I bought a fuel of N5,000 not knowing is water that is buying,” Mr Mario said.
He said, “The moment I started the vehicle it started but I couldn’t move a bit, I started it again several times and it was jerking. I was surprised because nothing was wrong with my vehicle before now. As I was trying to check out my vehicle I saw some other colleagues, coming back having the same issue when we tested the fuel it was pure water not even close to fuel.”
“Honestly, it is so barbaric. They are now selling water for us. I don’t even know who to blame, whether the filling station, manager or the people that they even buy the fuel from,” he said. “It’s terrible, honestly, I am not happy because right now it is going to be more harmful to my vehicle than the amount I spent buying the fuel.”
Other customers had the same complaint.
You will repair my car for me because I can’t move, this is wickedness, you sold water to me instead of fuel, now my car cannot move,” one driver yelled at a staff of the fuel station in anger.”
A commercial taxi driver, who gave his name as Sola, was also seen at the station lamenting.
“So, how can I move my car now? I came to buy fuel and buy trouble for myself. My car is damaged, this is a big problem,” he said.
“I want to see the manager of this place, how can you sell water for me? So, you mean I drove down to this place just to fill my car with water,” another motorist who refused to give his name lamented.
A staff of the station who spoke to the customers told PREMIUM TIMES that the fault must have been with their supplier.
“We don’t even know right now, that is why we have called our engineers to come and sort the issue out,” he said, requesting that his identity be protected because he was not authorised to speak to the media.
“We don’t know anything about this, we have never experienced something like this, so it is not time to say if this happened or not. We are waiting for the engineers and the supplier of the fuel, to come and talk about what happened. Because for us, we have never experienced something like this here.”
The staff explained that petrol suppliers usually fill in water into their trucks’ tanks to check leaks. Since fuel is lighter than water, the fluid floats above water in the tankers. When fuel is dispensed into filling stations’ underground tanks, mistakes sometimes occur that water gets delivered as well.
When PREMIUM TIMES visited the station on Thursday, the official refused to comment further, but pleaded the matter should not be reported.
Another staff said the case was eventually resolved after a mechanic was called in on Wednesday to flush customers’ vehicle tanks before they were refilled with petrol at no additional cost.