The Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, yesterday, sealed 87 petrol filling stations facility for various act of sharp practices. They facilities of the stations were uncovered after a week long surveillance operations of retail outlets in the Lagos Zonal area.
The affected stations either had some of their pumps sealed off or the entire facility completely shut down as a result of various infractions which ranged from under dispensing of petrol to illegal operation of a station without a license, and in some cases, outright abandonment of the facilities.
Some stations were fully sealed for several accounts of under-dispensing petrol products in a large scale across its machines, while others had specifically recorded their pumping machines under-dispensing petrol to buyers.
Hallmark however gathered that the defaulters had earlier received series of warnings from the industry regulator to desist from sharp practices leading to the illegal increases in the pump prices of premium motor spirit, petrol and kerosene, which enjoy federal government subsidy.
However, the affected stations caught includes: Mobil at Owode Bus Stop, Ikorodu, So Super Limited (Sahara), General Oil Limited, Ketu, Walesaf, Owode-Idera Bus Stop, Ikorodu Road and HS Petroleum at Ketu.
At Mobil, where its pumps were under-dispensing, 150 litres of water were found in 30,000 litres of PMS in one of its tanks. Two pumps were sealed at MRS station at Alapere, Ikorodu Road.
At NNPC station at Irawo Bus Stop, Ikorodu Road, three of its pumps were sealed for under-dispensing. Others were Kaz Oil, Lakowe; Forte Oil, Gulf road, Lakowe; Ona Ara Oil and Gas Station; Forte Oil, Molete; Wakass, Igando-Oloja; Forte Oil, Abule Folly Ibeju, and Forte Oil, Oribanwa Ibeju Lekki;
The monitoring tour, which was led by the Deputy Manager, Retail Outlets, Lagos Zonal office, Mr. Olusegun Dabo, lasted for about four hours.
The Forte Oil station at Oribanwa was sealed for hoarding 24,000 litres of PMS and refusal to open pumps for testing by the DPR officials.
Kaz Oil, whose pumps read N86.50 per litre at the time of the visit, under dispensed PMS by 0.8 litre for every 10 litre, thereby making buyers the product above N90 per litre. Ona Ara Oil and Gas Station, where there was no one to attend to the DPR inspectors, was sealed as the officials believed the pumps were switched off and abandoned on the news that the DPR was at the neighbour station, Kaz Oil.
At Forte Oil along Gulf road, Lakowe, two of the pumps were under dispensing by 0.98 litre and 1.06 litre for every 10 litres.
Speaking to newsmen after the inspection, Mrs. Chioma Njoku, Zonal Operations Controller, Lagos, stated that the call was imperative to bring to transparency operations in the sales of petroleum product so as to restore confidence of the masses to the government.
According to her, these sharp practices by marketers have cost the public and the economic a great deal. She said, “Some of them engage in manipulating their pumps that under-dispense to the public, which is a way of over-charging the buyers and they bear the brunt of it when caught.
“They don’t have any reason not to comply with our rules. We try to trace the problem back to the depots to nip it t the bid. We found out that some of them were selling above the ex-depot price and about 22 depots were sealed in the past few weeks.
“When we get them, they have to pay a fine of N100,000 to the Federal Government and then we have them sealed until the infraction is rectified. And when we catch them for more than once, we seal them for up to 90 days.
DPR, had couple of days ago said, it will place a fine of N200 per litre on any marketer who diverts petroleum products, in a bid to stem the continued fuel shortages being experienced in the country.
The DPR, in a statement obtained by Hallmark, stated that in addition to the fine, marketers or operators who indulge in the diversion of petrol and kerosene will also suffer severe sanctions and will be prosecuted in a court of law.
The development is coming on the heels of persistent sharp practices in the petroleum products supply chain, especially with regard to the violation of the officially stipulated pump prices for petrol and kerosene at depots and retail outlets.
Meanwhile the regulator said, “All marketers are hereby warned to desist from the illegal diversion of petroleum products, especially PMS and DPK. Failure to comply with this directive will attract severe sanctions, including the imposition of a fine of N200 per litre, of the diverted product or prosecution in a court of law of both.
It warned DAPPMA, MOMAN, NIPCO and PPMC, or buyers, IPMAN against buying or selling of PMS and DPK above the government regulated prices. It also cautioned the activities of unauthorized dealing, unlicensed third- party buyers, that operates outside of the PPMC, DAPPMA, NIPCO, MOMAN and other deports’ premises and thereby constituting illegal spot markets and sources of diversions of petroleum products.
In another related development , DPR, in a statement signed by Mr. Mordecai Ladan, DPR Director, also stated that it had also shut down 23 private petroleum products depots across the country, and slammed a fine of N46 million on the owners of the depots due to their involvement in sharp practices by the companies based in Lagos, Warri and Calabar. She noted that the affected depots were selling petrol to marketers above the ex-depot price of N77.66 per litre.