Okon Bassey in Uyo
Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) in the last six weeks has sealed 42 illegal gas stations in Akwa Ibom State.
Briefing reporters yesterday in his office in Eket Local Government Area, DPR Operations Controller, Mr. Tamunoiminabo Kingsley-Sundaye, explained that the gas stations were closed between January and February 2020 over unsafe and illegal practices.
He lamented that the department had in recent times observed unsafe practices by the gas operators involved ‘resellers’ business’ in the state, counselling that such business was not known all over the world and it’s unacceptable.
Kingsley-Sundaye advised landlords to stop giving shops to people who operate illegal gas stations in order to guard against safety of lives and property.
He noted that 80 per cent of illegal gas stations have vacated the streets of the Akwa Ibom, adding that most of the illegal gas operators are out of the streets because they could not meet with the required operation standards.
“Those that are doing illegal refilling points, over-decorating their shops with nozzle are virtually off the streets of Akwa Ibom.
“There are positive responses from resellers. If you go to Uyo, you will see good numbers of gas plant operators doing cylinder exchange instead of discounting which is illegal and not required by any standard,” he said.
He added that a good number of those doing illegal gas stations had left the business to do other businesses, saying the department has made them to understand that refilling of gas cylinders stops at the depot and not shops on the streets.
“The good thing is that the market is not spreading again, we are trying to resolve the problems already created. The department has been meeting the people to give them the requirements to know the dangers involved in the business. We are getting results,” Kingsley-Sundaye said.
He noted that DPR has sensitised Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) operators to ensure that their facilities are constructed, operated and maintained in accordance with approved technical standards.
Henceforth, he said applications of LPG operators and gas owners would be done online to ease their registrations with provision by the department to visit facilities of gas operators to check access and safety in the state in the second quarter of the year.
“We will assess them and look at the safety provision that have put in place to enable them operate safely. Those that did not meet up the standard will either be asked to upgrade or to stop until the right thing is done,” he said.
Kingsley-Sundaye said the department would intensify its surveillance through street-to-street awareness campaign to educate gas operators on the dangers of gas in the state.