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query_builder February 13, 2018 15:37:15

By Gloria Anaeze

Onitsha, Feb. 13, 2018 -- The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has sealed four filling stations in Anambra for alleged diversion of petrol.

The affected filling stations are located in Ogbunike, Onitsha, Nkpor, Obosi and Nnewi.

A litre of petrol now sells for between N185 and N200 at Awka, Nnewi and Onitsha.

The operators of two other outlets were reprimanded for selling the product above the recommended pump price of N145, while DPR officials forced five other stations to sell at the normal price.

Mr Linus Ikegbunam, Head of Safety, Environment and Health Department, DPR, who led five-man enforcement team said: ``the marketers are suspected not to have discharged products meant for their stations accordingly’’.

Ikegbunam said the filling stations sealed for suspected diversion had the product designated for them as contained in their manifests.

He said DPR was worried over rising cases of product diversion, especially at this time of supply challenges but assured that the agency was ready to combat the menace.

``How can a marketer who procured as much as between 40,000 and 50,000 litres of petrol to sell to the people will rather divert them to other locations,” Ikegbunam said.

According to him, the stations will remain closed until investigations are concluded on them and warned that those found culpable will be made to face the full wrath of the law.

``Selling above government approved price of N145 is an offence and that is why we enforced compliance at some stations. Those who are habitual offenders were also sealed and penalised,” Ikegbunam explained.

However, the marketer at Seaman’s Petroleum, Mr Geoffrey Anioke, said it had been difficult procuring products in the last two months, making it impossible to sell at the government approved price.

Anioke said selling petrol at N145, when the landing was between N165 and N170 was a huge loss for them.

He urged the Federal Government and the NNPC to supply enough petrol to eliminate the black market and artificial price increases.

``We get petrol from N165 to N170 at the moment and it is not possible to sell at N145 and forcing us to sell at that price is punishing us and driving us out of business.

``We are ready to serve the people and keep the economy going and that is why we are making extra efforts to have products.

``We expect government to address the shortage rather than make us suffer,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) said the petrol supply and price situation deserved urgent and lasting solution.

Mr Jerry Nnubia, Chairman of Anambra State chapter of the NLC, said that it was expected that the price of petrol would return to normal soon after the yuletide period but the crisis was still lingering.

He said the unofficial hike in the price of petrol was having severe effect on lives of Nigerians, especially workers.

``The Federal Government should ensure that the sector returned to normal through massive supply of products.

``You are aware that petrol is the driver of every other sectors of the economy and you can see the suffering this hike has brought to the people.