Mr. Abubakar Buba, Controller Abuja Operations, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) said the operations had shut down 22 illegal Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) also known as cooking gas outlets in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Buba while addressing newsmen after the shut down of Illegal LPG outlets exercise on Tuesday said that it was part of the operations effort to ensure safety and total compliance to the policy.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Some of the locations visited were Gwarinpa Estate, Wuse Zone one, Kubwa among others
He said that about four teams went out to different parts of the FCT to shut down illegal outlets, filling stations and arrest the operators.
“Today we have been able to raid about 22 unlicensed LPG skids and retailers shops in Abuja. We are able to close in about 26 retail outlets that are filling station that are unlicensed, they are illegal.
“ With partnership with the Nigeria Securities and Civil Defense (NSCDC), we are able to arrest about 22 illegal retailers that were sitting their shops at the wrong places like green areas, source of ignition, some are located where people are smoking, which is very unacceptable,’’ he said.
According to him, the operation will continue to enforce the policy to ensure that people do the right things.
He said that apart from licensed skids at the various filling stations, FCT had 35 standard legal gas plant scatters in various locations to serve residents.
He advised Nigerians to stop patronizing the roadside seller but should go to approved LPG plants situated in many areas in Abuja to refill their gas cylinders.
“They should not patronize any roadside seller by allowing them to decant (transferring from one cylinder to another), it is not acceptable and it is not good.
“We advise that Nigerians should exchange their cylinders instead of decanting,’’ he added.
He advised LPG marketers and retailers who were yet to get a license to approach the DPR office and obtain a license or regularize their papers to operate.
He assured that the DPR would continue to be committed to ensuring operators were duly licensed.
“This exercise is not to take anybody out of business but we want them to do their business legally,’’ he added.
Commenting on some operators arrested, he said that they would be handed over to the NSCDC for prosecution.
Mr. Felix Ikwuegbu, NSCDC Deputy Commandant of Corps FCT said the NSCDC was always available to work with the DPR to weed out illegal operators of LPG in the country.
“Like we have done in the past, we help DPR to effect arrest, all the suspects; we make sure they are arraigned before the federal high court.
“So Far, all the arrest in the past, we are waiting for the cases to be assigned to the court for arraignment that is where we are at the moment
“These ones that are arrested today, we will also ensure that they are taken to court and prosecuted,’’ he added.
He solicited information from the public for easy services adding that the security and safety of FCT residents remained paramount to the NSCDC
“We are looking at the safe and implication of illegal gas operations, we are not resting on our oars to make sure we sanitize FCT in that regard,’’ he added
Some of the gas sellers who spoke to NAN said that there were doing legitimate business and that it was unfair for DPR to stampede them and arrest them as criminals.
Mr. Rowland Nwodo, Chairman of the group in Wuse zone one said that they got approval from the FCT Environmental Agency and the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and even DPR to operate.
“ Apart from selling gas, we also supply the hospital with oxygen, Most times; people call us to bring gas to them at homes in times of emergency.
“We have put everything the authorities asked us to put in place like a fire extinguisher, the Fire Service came here yesterday and they checked the extinguishers and identified some that needed to be serviced.
“They have carried all of those ones to service for us. We have the giants extinguishes all over here,’’ he said.
NAN reports that there was a presence of roadside food vendors cooking close to the gas outlets.
In his remarks, Mr. Chris Ikeliani, owner of Meri Gas Limited said that LPG business requires very serious regulation and the DPR must ensure adherence to policies by operators.
“There is no doubt that you need the DPR to ensure that every retail point must be well regulated so that it doesn’t cause inflammation all over the place
“Recently, you know that there is a lot of fire from gas outlets that are not well located, some are located in very small places, inside shops and a little spark is disastrous.
“So, because of that, we need to handle it very well and carefully,’’ he said.
Ikeliani advised that people should take designate properties for gas plants in various locations to build a plant for safety measures.
He noted that to establish a standard gas plant could cost between N250 and N300 million.