By Anselem Anokwute
No fewer than 42 filling stations have been sealed in Imo state by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) over alleged involvement and practices leading to increase in the price of the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), and AGO (Diesel) and DPK (Kerosene) against their official pump prices. PMS is supposed to sell at not more than N143.00 per liter.
The DPR Zonal Operations Controller Mr. Peter Ikechukwu Ijeh gave the hint while fielding questions from journalists in Owerri, over the weekend. According to him, the current fuel scarcity is temporary and merely caused by members of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association (IPMA) who seized the prevailing seasonal opportunity to hoard the products. He maintained that the Christmas season is always associated with more demand of the products which is often higher than supply. Ijeh further stated that there should be no cause for alarm as the federal government has set up modalities to tackle such challenges.
Ijeh maintained that their major challenges are not in controlling the price but under delivery of the products by the fuel distributors. According to him, in their surveillance report between the 5th and 7th December, 2017, not fewer than 42 filling stations have been sealed for the arbitrary increase in the pump price of fuel while 4 filling stations hurriedly locked up on sighting the arrival of the task force team. Amongst the filling stations mentioned as sealed, include, St. Consi, Peno Oil, Jekwus Oil Ltd, Ocean Coscisco, Integrated Oil and Gas owned by Captain Emma Ihenacho and many others.
He therefore called on the management and members of Imo state branch of Independent Petroleum Marketer Association (IPMA) to operate within the ambit of the law and refrain from selling above the recommended pump prices to avoid closure and seal of their business outlets as a penalty for disobedience.
On the recent explosion that rocked a certain filling station at Orji, in Owerri North LGA, which claimed the lives of many people, Ijeh said, investigation is still ongoing to ascertain the causes of the explosion but warned operators of filling stations and the owners to always embrace safety mechanism while those intending to build filling stations should endeavour to do so with the supervision of the agency, and adhere strictly to quality and standard of materials.