Posted by News Express | 9 January 2016 | 3,676 times
Owners of petrol stations across major towns in Benue have defied government directive to sell petrol at the the new pump price of N86.50k per lire.
An investigation conducted by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Makurdi showed that major and independent marketers in the state were selling the product at between N120 and N130 per litre.
A cross section of the marketers who spoke to NAN under condition of anonymity, said that the product they had were old stock which they bought at high cost.
When contacted, Mr Benjamin Ewuga, the controller, Department of Petroleum Services (DPR) in charge of Benue and Nasarawa states, told NAN that the situation in the state was aggravated by politics.
He described the situation as being “caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.”
Ewuga said that while the department wanted closure of defaulting petrol stations, the government was opposed to such measures for political considerations.
He explained that the government was afraid that closure of defaulting petrol stations would not only aggravate fuel scarcity, but could also lead to increase in the prices of goods and services.
“This could be potent weapon in the hands of political opponents.”
Ewuga also blamed ineffective surveillance of petrol stations across the state on inadequate staff.
“The department has only 20 staff in the state while there are over 33,000 petrol stations.
“How can we go round, it is not even possible to station our men at stations to ensure compliance with the new pump price.”
The controller explained that owners of petrol stations were taking advantage of the state government’s stand against closure of their stations to undermine the operations of the department.
He said, “Owners of petrol stations change their pump price as soon as our team departs from their stations after inspections.
“It is not possible for us to be everywhere at the same time considering our staff strength.”
In Warri, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) on Friday sealed five petrol stations in Warri and environs for various offences.
The stations were sealed for hoarding and over pricing of petroleum products.
The affected stations- Jaak Nig Ltd, Fomas Marine &Engineering Service Ltd and Conoil were punished for hoarding of fuel.
Also, Asolyn petrol station and St Luke Petroleum Ltd were shut for over pricing.
Addressing newsmen, Mr Goddy Agusa, Head, Public Affairs Division of DPR, Warri Zonal Office said it would be a continuous exercise.
“The exercise would be continuous until the people learnt to comply with government directive on the sales of fuel.”
The Federal Government had ordered independent petroleum marketers to dispense fuel at N86.5 per litre.
However, many marketers had failed to heed the order.
Agusa said the offenders would pay fine to the Federal Government before they would be reopened for operations.
“Over pricing, hoarding and under dispensing attract N100, 000, while double offence attracts N200, 000.
“Normally, we are supposed to reopen them after two months, but with the situation around now, we will reopen them as soon as they remit their fines.”
However, FrankChris petrol station in Otokutu, Udu Local Government Area of Delta earlier shut was reopened after paying the necessary fines.
Some of the motorists expressed joy at the exercise and urged the agency to keep it up. (NAN)
•Photo shows filling station.
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