Michael Eboh, Fortune Eromosele & Alice Ekpang
The Federal Government, on Tuesday, insisted that no consumer of cooking gas is allowed to own cylinders, stating that at the point of retail, consumers are expected to exchange their old cylinders for another one to be provided by retailers.
Speaking during an inspection and enforcement campaign around the Federal Capital Territory, Zonal Operations Controller of the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, Abuja, Mr. Abubakar Buba, disclosed that the DPR had already commenced strict enforcement of its policy on cooking gas handling and sales and would continue to sanction defaulting retailers.
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During the enforcement campaign, Buba stated that the DPR closed down 22 illegal retail outlets and gas filling stations, while 22 illegal gas dealers were arrested.
He condemned the practice of refilling cooking gas, also known as Liquefied Petroleum Gas, LPG, by the roadside, stating that the DPR, together with its partner, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, would increase its surveillance across the country to eliminate this sharp practice which poses serious threats to lives and properties.
“Nigerians, henceforth, should go to LPG refilling centre and refill their gases. They should not allow any roadside gas retailer, whether it is approved or not approved to carry their cylinder and decant there; it is not acceptable; it is not good.
“We are advising Nigerians to always go with their cylinders and exchange it for a full one, instead of refilling from a cylinder to a cylinder, it is not allowed.
“And for the marketers, LPG marketers and retailers, I am advising them that this exercise is going to be continuous and I am advising them to always come to the office, its either to get a license or regularise, we are always available for them. Our exercise is not to get them out of the market, let them come and make it legal.”
Also speaking, Deputy Commandant of the Corps, Second-in-Charge, FCT Command of the NSCDC, Felix Ikwuegbu, said the corps was working with the DPR to rid the country of illegal operators, noting that it would ensure that those arrested are arraigned immediately.
He said, “What our office is doing is that we embark on a regular raid in collaboration with DPR from time to time and that is why we solicit information from the public to proffer information, to enable us to serve the public, particularly the FCT residents better. You can see we are looking at the security and the deceptive operations of these illegal gas operators.”
Speaking in the same vein, Managing Director of Merrigas, Mr. Chris Ikeliani, highlighted the need for operators to abide strictly to rules and regulations guiding the sale and handling of LPG.
Chief executive of the 80,000 litres or 46 metric tonnes equivalent Merrigas gas plant in Abuja, said, “Gas is a volatile product; more volatile than the ordinary petrol, than the PMS. It requires very serious regulation. There is no doubt that you need the DPR to ensure that every gas retail point must be well regulated so that it doesn’t cause inflammation all over the place.
“Recently, you know there has been a lot of fire from gas plants or gas outlets that are not well located. Some are located in very small spaces inside shops and with a little spark it goes off and consumes a lot of properties and even human beings. It is because of that you need to handle it very carefully.”
On the requirements for setting up of a gas plant, Ikeliani said, “In summary, first of all, it has to be a property that is designated in the master plan as gas refilling plant. Afterward, you do your design with the experts and submit to the Development Control of the Federal Capital Development Authority, FCDA.
“After the approval of the Development Control Unit, you go to the DPR, who now look into the details, because the DPR is not the one that gives you the plot, but the FCDA that gives you the plot. It is from there that they give you the approval to commence the business.”