Nigeria reaches deal with fuel importers

Fuel importers say they are owed money by the government and have shut depots to press their case.

FILE: The Nigerian flag flies in Lagos. Picture: AFP.

PRETORIA - Nigerian wholesalers, who had turned off the taps claiming they are owed a billion dollars by government, have reached a deal with the Finance Minister, Danladi Fasali.

Their action has impacted on the country's aviation, banking and telecommunications sectors. In addition to driving the country's vehicles and aircraft, fuel is used to run electricity generators.

Even though it is Africa's biggest crude producer, Nigeria has to import nearly all its fuel due to old or inadequate refineries. Fuel importers say they are owed money by the government and have shut depots to press their case.

The party of President-elect Muhammadu Buhari, who is due to take office on Friday, accuses the outgoing government of sabotaging an end to Nigeria's fuel crisis.

Government has refused to pay wholesalers the difference between the subsidised pump price and the international market price.

Fasali says wholesalers have started transporting fuel from the depots Lagos, and fuel stations have been instructed to reopen.

Many travellers were also braced for long delays after airline Arik was forced to ground a number of domestic flights at the weekend and rival carrier Aero said its flights would not operate regularly.

A committee will now be set up to verify the $1bn figure and then pay the outstanding money.