Posted by Garba Ahmed | 29 December 2017 | 1,953 times
A Joint Task Force Team, comprising the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Department of State Security and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corpse, on Thursday raided erring filling stations in Zaria, Kaduna State.
The fuel scarcity across the state had led to long queues in the few filling stations, while many motorists were forced to buy from "black" market at about N270 per litre as against the official price N145.
Many of the erring filling stations in Zaria were discovered to have petrol hidden in their underground tanks and in trucks, while many others were selling above the pump price.
The Task Force discovered that FARMSKAN Petroleum Nigeria Limited, which had 11,000 litres of petrol as at Wednesday when it was sealed for selling at N205, illegally broke the seal and sold 1,600 litres at the same price.
The filling station dispensers upon investigation were also discovered to have been under-dispensing to buyers. The task force discovered that the filling station sold six litres as 10 litres to unsuspecting buyers.
Tafida Isah, leader of the Task Force and the Zonal Operations Controller of DPR, Kaduna Zone, said that FARMSKAN filling stations would be suspended for three months, sanctioned and unsealed to allow the fuel sold to the public at government controlled price.
“FARMSKAN will also be fined for under-dispensing and shall be made to pay a fine of N200 on each of the 1,600 litres sold while under seal,” he said.
Several attempts by the task force to adjust the dispenser to government price failed, hence the team ordered the sale of 14 liters for 10 litres to the public.
“If you are caught selling above pump price, you will be fined N100,000 per dispenser. If you are caught hoarding, it will be sold to the public and you will be sanctioned appropriately,” he said, adding: “If other filling stations are caught hiding the products instead of selling them, they will be made to sell to the public at controlled price in order to alleviate the suffering of the public.”
The manager of FARMSKAN filling station who gave his name as Mukhtar Zailani declined speaking with journalists and absconded, saying: “I am not the owner of the station.”
A mild drama, however, ensued at FASADA Petroleum Company at Dogarawa, along Zaria-Kaduna Expressway. Upon sighting the task force, in an attempt to re-adjust the pump price from his dispenser from N215 back to N145, a staff ended up over-dispensing and adjusting below controlled price.
“I got scared, but there is nothing I can do than to sell it like that, at least I have not been caught in the act,” Balarabe Zaria, the visibly confused manager said.
Four thousand five hundred litres of petrol was also discovered at the filling station and was immediately opened for sale at controlled price.
The task force also discovered 3, 800 litres of petrol and a 33,000-litre tanker loaded with kerosene at MAMU Petrol Station at Gwargwaji. The product was immediately ordered to be sold to the public at controlled price.
The team moved around Zaria metropolis to ensure availability and sale of the products. Some motorists trailed the vehicles of the task force to various filling stations, hoping to take advantage of the raid and the sale of the product at government controlled price. They appealed to government for stiffer penalty and regular monitoring to ensure enforcement.
“These filling stations, as soon as you (the task force) leave, they revert to 'black' market rate of even above N250 per litre and they under-dispense to even five litres at 10 litres. So it is as bad as that. The only long term solution is to make this product available,” Hassan Tijjani, a commercial motorist said.
Abba Bukar, Executive Director, Operations at Kaduna Refining and Petrochemicals Company Limited, who led the NNPC team, told our reporter that the Crude Distillation Unit is back on stream and is currently operating at 60 percent production capacity.
“At least you left the PPMC area office and the depot. You have seen trucks being loaded with products out of those places.
“PPMC should be able to give the exact number of trucks loading with different products from here,” he said.
Meanwhile, Senate President Bukola Saraki had directed members of the Senate Committee on Petroleum Downstream, chaired by Kabiru Marafa, to cut short their holiday in order to contribute to addressing the lingering fuel crisis.
This was announced on the Twitter handle of the Red Chamber on Wednesday.
The development was confirmed by the Special Assistant to the Senate President on New Media, Olu Onemola who promised to provide more details of the decision later.
•The Joint Task Force during Thursday’s raid on erring filling stations in Zaria. Photo: Garba Ahmed
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