By Amby Uneze in Owerri and James Sowole in Akure
Petrol Filling station Owners Association has tasked the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to enforce official price of the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise called petrol right from depots rather chasing marketers at filling stations.
This is as the DPR, South east zone sealed five filling stations in Owerri, capital of Imo state and forced reversal to normal price of the product at N86.50 per liter.
The call by the filling station owners was sequel to the alleged harassment and intimidation of members by government agencies including the DPR, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), the Police and the Task Force of the state on petroleum for selling fuel above the official N86.50 per litre.
Speaking with journalists in Akure, Ondo State capital, the Chairman of the Filling Station Owners and Dealers Association, Prince Adefolajimi Adedapo said members were being forced to sell at N86.50 by government agencies while many of their stations had been sealed.
“Since we have not gotten the products at the approved price and that we buy at depot between N135 and N145 per litre in Lagos and Warri, there is no way we could sell the product at approved price”, they insisted.
He said government should enforce the regulated price from the depots all over the country and not at the outlets if government really wanted to enforce price.
“The DPR and Civil Defence Corps should direct their attention to depots and ensure compliance with the regulated price of PMS from source from major marketers and private marketers depots”, he said.
While challenging the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation to make public the number of trucks approved for loading to Ondo State on daily basis and how many go to its members, Adedapo said the government needed to address fundamental issues in the sector.
“It is not cheering that some of our members have paid the official rate since December 2015 and are yet to get the products as at now. You know the financial implications of this”
In order to solve the problem, Adedapo said NNPC and Petroleum and Pipeline Marketing Company (PPMC) should increase the volume of product through transfer from Mosimi, Ejigbo and Ibadan Depots to Ore Depot instead of concentrating on mega stations and major outlets.
“Government should ensure availability of the product in Ore Depot which had been abandoned for over three years.
We do not derive joy in going about depots looking for fuel with high attendant risks. We need to do business with rest of mind: Adedapo stated.
Leading the enforcement team in Owerri, the Controller of the South East zone, Ogbuefi Morrison Nwokedi ordered the sealing of five fillings stations in Owerri municipality and Nekede, Owerri West local council area of Imo State while many others were compelled to dispense the premium motor spirit, to motorists at the government approved pump price of N86.50 per litre.
At Oando filling station along Port Harcourt road, Owerri the Officials of the DPR also discovered that the station which was one of those sealed, had over 61,000 litres of PMS but could not sell the product alleging faulty generating set, but when apparently jolted by the excuse, an official DPR volunteered to fix it and discovered it was in order. Nwokedi, not only ordered the sealing of the station but also directed the dealer to report to the office when he finally ‘fixed’ the generator.
However, the situation was different at Ebere Links where the product was being sold at N170 before the arrival of DPR officials, who immediately forced them to revert to the official pump price.
Asking questions from newsmen after the monitoring exercise, Nwokedi said that the major interest was the full compliance of government directive on the sale of PMS. According to him “No marketer has so far given us any lead to justify the outrageous price tag they placed on the petroleum product. Until they do this, we will continue to insist on the government approved pump price”.
He alleged the fear of the public that marketers would eventually go back to their old price, stating that the probability of reverting was remote because they knew DPR officials were around, and “that we monitor them on regular basis”.
“So the concept of somebody reverting to N150 or N200 is remote because they know we are very much on ground and that we are very aggressive about our activities. You can see what happened today, the whole system, our staff were moving around the whole stations enforcing them to revert to government approved price.
“The issue there is that they must comply, that is our job, and we will do it every day just to ensure that they comply with government directive. It is mandatory, it is sacrosanct as simple as that, and they must comply. There are sanctions attached to that if we go back and noticed that they have gone back to their old price. If they go back we will apply the sanctions as enshrined in the regulation”, he stated.
Most car owners who spoke to newsmen, commended DPR for enforcing the government directive on pump price. According to those that spoke to THISDAY, they felt that great relief had come their way and wished it continued.
However, Prince Pat Abii appealed to government to ascertain if the marketers get the product at the depots or not, stressing that “it does not make economic sense if the marketers buy the product at over N100 per litre and are forced to sell at N86.50 per litre”.