By Seriki Adinoyi in Jos
The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) in collaboration with men of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) has commenced its monitoring exercise and sealing off of illegal filling stations across Jos, the Plateau State capital.
The operation, which led to the arrest of several operators/workers of the illegal filling stations, took the monitoring personnel across Jos North, Jos South, Jos East and Bassa Local Government Areas, with a total of 18 outlets shut down and 13 persons arrested in the aftermath.
Addressing newsmen during the exercise, Operations Controller of DPR Jos field office, Jerome Agada, said the clampdown on the illegal stations was necessary to ensure sanity and to make the operators comply with standing rules of engagement.
He said: “The filing stations sealed off are illegally established and they sell above the usual pump price. The operators of these filling stations did not come for us to guide them on their operations neither are they documented with us. So they did not follow due process in setting up the stations. And since we don’t even have them on record, we cannot monitor or regulate them. That is the challenge we are facing.
“But today, we are on a mop-up, and the long arm of the law has caught up with them. The way some of them operate is that they come at night to sell fuel, but in the day time the place will be quiet. We thank God for men of Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps that are collaborating with us on the operation. All those arrested will be sanctioned and prosecuted accordingly.
“I call on all operators to follow the genuine standard in their operations in order to operate safely and smoothly. But toeing the path of illegality is not proper, and all those operating illegally are the ones patronizing those who usually divert petroleum products, and those who sell adulterated and low quality products.
“Again, these illegal operators are the ones who usually cheat the public because they buy from wrong sources instead of major marketers. They also don’t want to pay the required fee to government. But this time around, we will not allow them, and we will bring them to book.”
Agada lamented that the DPR has been appealing to the illegal operators to desist from the act and follow the proper process of operating, but to no avail, adding that clamping down on them and making arrests have become inevitable.
He said that they will no longer allow the act of impunity to continue, and that apart from their illegal operation, many of the outlets constitute serious hazard to the society as they are situated in inappropriate places and close to residential areas.
According to him, “Anyone desirous of operating a filling station should apply to us and we will first of all go and inspect the suitability of the site. The other processes are the electrical and technical design of the site. But unfortunately these operators are bypassing all due processes and they keep increasing in their numbers. The issue of illegal stations has become a societal menace. Imagine siting a gas plant close to residential areas. That is very dangerous to the lives of the people if there is an explosion.”
He called on motorists and other petroleum users in the state to desist from patronising filling stations operating illegally or those even without names, stressing that the operations will continue in other parts of the state until the entire state is rid of illegal operators.
In his remarks, the state Commandant of NSCSC, Solomon Olasupo, said those arrested will be prosecuted, and will be made to pay for their illegality.