Nigeria’s trade union federation has said it will resist what it calls the “criminal” rise in the petrol price.

The government announced on Wednesday that the price was to go up by two-thirds, in a bid to ease crippling fuel shortages.

The Nigeria Labour Congress said the increase from 86 naira ($0.43; £0.30) a litre to 145 naira should be reversed.In 2012, the government was forced to back down on a planned price rise after nationwide protests.

A subsidy, which has kept the price low, costs the government $6.5m a day, says Isa Sanusi a reporter in Abuja.

But recent fuel shortages have seen Nigerians paying up to 250 naira a litre on the black market.

Despite being one of Africa’s largest oil producers, Nigeria has to import fuel to meet demand as Nigerian refineries are dilapidated and work at a fraction of their capacity.

“The main reason for the current problem is the inability of importers of petroleum products to source foreign exchange at the official rate due to the massive decline of foreign exchange earnings of the federal government,” said Petroleum Minister Ibe Kachikwu.

“We expect that this new policy will lead to improved supply and competition and eventually drive down pump prices,” he added.