In a bid to step up action against the antics of major and independent petroleum marketers across the South-East and south-south geo-political zones leading to acute fuel scarcity, the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, yesterday, sealed 86 filling stations in Enugu, Ebonyi and Anambra and Delta states found violating ethical practices.
A break-down reeled out by the DPR showed that 45 filling stations were sealed in Anambra State while 23, 12 and 6 filling stations were shut down in Enugu, Ebonyi and Delta states respectively.
Vanguard checks showed that the prevailing scarcity of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, otherwise known as petrol, had occasioned economic hardship on the people, who now pay suffocating prices for fares, stable food items, among others.
But while briefing newsmen at their Emene office in Enugu, the Operations Controller in charge of Enugu, Anambra and Ebonyi states, Mr. Peter Ijeh assured motorists and residents that the DPR had rolled up its sleeves to rout major and independent petroleum marketers, who hoard, adulterate, and divert products in the regions, which had brought avoidable economic hardship on the people.
According to the DPR boss: ”We have struck a synergy with the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, NSCDC, Department of State Services, DSS, and Police to prosecute erring filling station operators, who after we must have sealed their stations, open to the public at night.
“We have beefed up our monitoring and surveillance machinery to ensure that operators play by the rules. The scarcity is premised on the increased demand for supply against the backdrop of filling stations that have run out of stock.
Most of the filling stations closed down because they do not have products. Most of those selling above approved pump price of N87 have been shut down for short-changing the people.
“Both major and independent marketers buy at N77.66. But the independent marketers will always claim they bought at high price. That is why they sell to black marketers, because they do not want to buy from the approved source. We have sealed most filling stations in South-East that are selling above N87 per litre.
“We are appealing to the public to quickly call us if they see any filling station selling above N87. We are determined to ensure quality control and accurate meter reading all in a bid to ensure value for money paid by motorists and residents.”
In a similar vein, the DPR, yesterday, sealed six petrol stations in Warri and its environs for hoarding petroleum products and selling above the official pump price of N87.
DPR surveillance team led by Mr. Obukaroro Ovadje, Assistant Zonal Manager, sealed the stations after the surveillance which lasted more than seven hours.
A correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, who monitored the exercise, reports that two of the filling stations are located in Warri.
The other four are located in Udu Local Government Area of the state.
One filling station at Jakpa Road, Uvwie Local Government Area, sold petrol above the official pump price and also under-dispensed.
The manager of the station was compelled by the team to dispense his stock free of charge to customers.
Ovadje told newsmen that the Presidency had directed that any filling station caught selling petrol above the official price should be compelled to dispense the product free of charge to customers.
“This filling station dispenses fuel at N140 and also under-dispenses at 11.35, as against the normal measurement of 10.0.
“With that, we have no choice than to compel the manager to dispense to customers for free in line with government directive,” he said.
Ovadje said that DPR would continue to monitor the activities of marketers to ensure full compliance with government directive.
The manager of the filling station, who refused to disclose his name, said that “mechanical fault” compelled him to sell the product above the official price.
“Sometimes when it happens like this, we quickly call the engineer to check and rectify the fault. We sell at the regulated pump price,” he said.
The head of Public Affairs, DPR, Mr. Goddey Agusa, said the department gave its contacts to some people to furnish it with information on the activities of filling stations.