The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, has been urged to increase the supply of kerosene to Cross River State as a matter of urgency.

Correspondent Eme Offiong reports that those in the rural communities are worst hit by the supply gap in the distribution of kerosene.

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Calabar, the Cross River State capital city, is located in the coastal region of Southern Nigeria and has an area of 406 kilometres as well as close to one million people.

As one drives into the city, it is impossible to miss a long queue of people carrying jerry cans of different shapes and sizes waiting under the scourging sun to buy Kerosene from the NNPC mega station and Northwest Petroleum, which is an Independent marketer.

These people come from as far as Akamkpa, Biase, Odukpani and Yakurr local government areas on the western part of the city as well as Akpabuyo and Bakassi council areas on the south.

These consumers pay between one hundred and thirty naira and 300 naira per litre of Kerosene.

A housewife in Iwuru Obio Ntan, a village in Biase local government area, Mrs Victoria Effiong and the Clan head of the community, Chief Amaku Agbor Ijingha said they depend on kerosene sourced from Calabar, a situation they said has brought untold hardship on their household especially with the ban on logging by the Cross River State Government.

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Boniface Felix, who lives at Ifum Mkpa, a remote village that is about three hours drive from Uyangha in Akamkpa Local government area said he prefers to buy about five litres of kerosene every market day at 150 naira per litre as against 250 or 300 naira per beer bottle in his village.

Mr. Maurice Ekpenyong, who is from Akpabuyo local government area explained that they never bought kerosene at 50 naira recommended pump price.

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A petty kerosene retailer at Iwuru Obio Ntan, Mr Sunday Okoro, explained that he used to buy Kerosene at the NNPC mega station for sale in his community.

A retired Comptroller of the Nigeria Custom Service, and the proprietor of a petrol station in Calabar, Felix Nsemo, disclosed that for more than fifteen years, the NNPC Calabar Depot had not supplied kerosene to consumers.

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The Chairman of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, Cross River State, Mr. Effiong Etukudoh explained why kerosene was beyond the reach of the common man.

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It was not possible to speak with the management of NNPC Calabar Depot as security personnel at the gates said all the top officials travelled to Abuja and could not ascertain when they would return.

The people have, however, appealed to the Federal Government and the NNPC to alleviate the effect of the current realities by bridging the gap in the distribution process to force down the cost of kerosene in the state.

I am Eme Offiong reporting for VON.