Seriki Adinoyi in Jos
The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has arrested at 19 operators of illegal filling stations across six local government areas in Plateau State and sealing of 23 erring stations in the operation.
The two days operation which was in collaboration with men of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) covered Jos North, Jos South, Jos East, Bassa, Bokkos and Barkin-Ladi Local Government Areas (LGAs).
Addressing newsmen during the exercise, the Operations Controller, DPR Jos Field Office, Mr. 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 “are illegally established and they sell above the usual pump price. The operators of the 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 do not 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 part of illegality is not proper, and all those operating illegally are the ones patronising 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 had been appealing to the illegal operators to desist from the act and follow the proper process of operating, but all to no avail.
He added that clamping down on them and the subsequent arrest “has become inevitable. They will no longer allow any act of impunity to continue. Apart from their illegal operation, many of the outlets constitute serious hazard to the society.
“The outlets are situated in inappropriate places and close to residential areas. 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 sitting a gas plant close to residential areas. That is very dangerous to the lives of the people if there is an explosion.”
He urged 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.”