OFFICIALS of the Department of Petroleum Resources and operatives of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps on Monday compelled filling stations in Bayelsa State to revert to the Federal Government approved price of N86.50.
The operation led by DPR’s State Operations Controller, Mr. Asuquo Antai, and NSCDC’s State Commandant, Mr. Desmond Agu, saw the two federal agencies storming several stations, particularly in Yenagoa metropolis, to enforce the regulated price.
Before the operation, filling stations in the state were dispensing a litre of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) at between N150 and N200.
Beside the astronomical rise in prices of fuel, some filling stations in the state, with the exception of the NNPC mega filling stations and their affiliates, were discovered to be shortchanging customers through under-dispensing and product hoarding.
Addressing journalists after the operation, Antai said fuel supply to the state had improved in the last few days.
He wondered why why operators of filling stations still chose to sabotage the government and inflict pains on consumers.
The Operations Controller said, “The government has emphasised times without number that all retail outlets should sell at N86.50. We have embarked on this operation to enforce government directive.
“Most of the filling stations have not been selling at the appropriate price. We had a meeting with independent marketers on the issue. We have told them that henceforth, they should sell at the regulated price or face severe sanction. “
He, however, appealed to Pipelines and Products Marketing Company to increase supply to Bayelsa, saying the state had yet to meet its daily consumption figure 837,000 litres.
He warned marketers against hoarding products, under dispensing and diversion of products, saying that recently, the Department sanctioned 16 filling stations for sharp practices.
In his comment, the NSCDC state Commandant, Desmond Agu, warned against product diversion, saying that errant marketers would be arrested and dealt with according to the law.
Agu said, “Let me sound it loud and clear that diversion of petrol is prohibited. Anyone caught diverting products meant for Bayelsa to another places will be decisively dealt with. My men will be on 24 hour surveillance and patrol.
“And those people involved in black marketeering are warned in their own interest to stop. From tomorrow, anyone caught selling with jerry cans would be meant to forfeit the fuel and will be detained.
“We are aware that some filling stations sell only at night to rip customers off. We have mandated our operatives to henceforth patrol in the midnight to fish out errant marketers. We are poised to ensure that fuel consumers do not suffer in Bayelsa.”
However, a customer, Chief Nengi James, urged the DPR and the NSCDC to see that such operation was done regularly to sanitise the situation.
James, the Chairman of Civil Liberties Organisation in Bayelsa said, “It is not a one-off operation. If the relevant enforcement agencies carry out such operation continuously, all the sharp practices going on at filling stations will be reduced to the barest minimum.
“The PPMC should also ensure that the right quantities are brought into the state. By so doing, enforcement will be easier and erring filling stations will have themselves to blame.”