The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has sealed 10 petrol stations and four Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) plants in Kaduna State for various offences.
DPR’s Zonal Operations Controller in the state, Isa Tafida, told reporters on Tuesday during a monitoring exercise that the facilities were sealed for pump under-delivery, products diversion, operating without licence and noncompliance to safety regulations.
Other offences he listed include non-conformity to standard operations, construction and operation without DPR licence, and installation of facilities without approval.
Tafida revealed that the agency inspected no fewer than 768 petrol stations and 38 gas stations within the last quarter of 2019.
He explained that the aim was to ensure compliance and to also make sure residents were not short-changed by unscrupulous marketers, especially during festive period.
The zonal operations controller who led other officials on the inspection tour said the DPR has intensified its operations within the state, in furtherance of its constitutional responsibilities.
He added that 38 LPG plants and 50 retailers were licensed in an effort to discourage desert encroachment and felling of trees, as well as reducing the associated risk of decanting LPG by unlicensed retailers.
Tafida insisted that the operation of illegal gas plants without licence and under unsafe condition was illegal and would not be allowed.
The Lagos State Police Command has arrested two suspected notorious petroleum tanker hijackers in the Mile 2 area of the state.
Police Operatives from Itire Division made the arrest after intercepting a tanker loaded with 40,000 litres of petroleum product along Iyana-Itire pin down point.
The suspects are Charles Obllomo (37) and Osita Onyeka (35) while the truck driver, Muhammadu Mande, (42) and the conductor, Lawali Usman, (34) were rescued in the process.
The Police Public Relations Officer in Lagos, Bala Elkana, confirmed in a statement on Sunday that the suspects were apprehended while acting on the strength of information from a reliable source.
“In his statement, the truck driver averred that his truck loaded with 40, 000 litres of PMS at Swift Depot, Apapa was billed for Kontagora, Niger State.
“That on getting to a bad portion of the road at Mile 2, four men in military uniform stopped him and asked what product he was carrying before ordering him and his conductor out of the truck into a red Toyota Corolla,” the statement said.
Obllomo and Onyeka were said to have taken possession of the truck while the driver and his conductor were sandwiched by the four men in military uniform in the car.
According to Elkana, the truck was driving behind the car and heading to an unknown destination before it was intercepted by the police.
Mande initially thought the hijackers were military men on stop and search duty until they started beating him and his conductor and threatened to kill them if they refuse to follow their orders.
However, the four suspects in military uniforms escaped with bullet wounds after a fierce battle with the police.
“The Truck and the Toyota Corolla were recovered and moved to the Police Station. Two pairs of vehicle plate numbers and military caps were recovered in the Corolla.
“The truck containing the PMS was handed over to the owner, Sani Samaila ‘m’ 55 years old, the Manager, Petroleum Nigeria Limited, Kontagora, Niger State,” the statement added.
Samaila decried that truck owners have suffered a lot of losses from the activities of hijackers in the past without remedy.
He explained that the syndicate usually hijack trucks and offload the content in locations, mostly outside Lagos, and abandon the truck for the owners to find after some days or weeks.
The Commissioner of Police in Lagos, Hakeem Odumosu, has directed the Commander of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) to take over the investigation and ensure that the fleeing suspects were arrested.
A tanker laden with Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), also known as petrol, has crashed along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
The incident occurred at about 5:10am on Christmas Day around the RCCG Car Park C in Mowe on the outward Lagos section of the highway.
This has resulted in a gridlock on both sections of the road, the spokesperson for the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) Ogun State Command, Florence Okpe, said in a statement.
The tanker was said to be conveying petrol before it crashed into the barriers, although the FRSC said it was managing the situation.
Okpe revealed that the agency immediately contacted the Fire Service and Julius Berger Nigeria PLC Emergency Team to commence transloading and removal of the crashed tanker and eventual realignment of the displaced barriers, to restore traffic.
“The FRSC hereby advises the early morning travellers going on far journeys to seek alternative routes away from the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway via the Long Bridge to Mowe.
“The alternate corridors available are the Victoria Island-Ajah- Ijebu Ode Corridor and the Lagos-Ota- Itori-Abeokuta Expressway, considering the period it could take to transload the PMS in the crashed vehicle to another empty tanker, remove the crashed vehicle from the ditch, replace the road barriers the crash displaced and restore traffic,” the statement said.
The State Sector Commander, Clement Oladele, also appealed to motorists to note the traffic occurrences and bear with the inconveniences.
He gave the assurance that the FRSC rescue team was working with sister traffic and emergency agencies to restore free vehicular movement in the area.
One person was killed and others injured in protests that spread Saturday across Iran after a surprise decision to impose petrol price hikes and rationing in the sanctions-hit country.
The death occurred Friday in the central city of Sirjan, where protesters had tried to set a fuel depot ablaze but were thwarted by security forces, semi-official ISNA news agency reported.
Protests erupted hours after it was announced the price of petrol would be increased by 50 percent for the first 60 litres and 300 percent for anything above that each month.
Sirjan’s acting governor Mohammad Mahmoudabadi said a civilian was killed but it was unclear if he had been “shot or not”.
“Security forces did not have permission to shoot and were only allowed to fire warning shots… which they did,” ISNA quoted him as saying.
He said some people “destroyed public property, damaged fuel stations and also wanted to access the oil company’s main fuel depots and set fire to them”.
Protests were also held Friday in other cities including Abadan, Ahvaz, Bandar Abbas, Birjand, Gachsaran, Khoramshahr, Mahshahr, Mashhad and Shiraz, state news agency IRNA said.
In Ahvaz “rioters” torched a bank and in Khoramshahr “suspicious and unknown armed individuals” opened fire and injured a number of people, state television’s website said.
In other cities, protests were mostly limited to blocking traffic and were over by midnight, it added.
Police fired tear gas at protesters in some cities, state television said.
It accused “hostile media” of trying to use fake news and videos on social media to exaggerate protests as “large and extensive”.
Prosecutor general Mohammad Jafar Montazeri laid the blame for incidents on a “few disruptors” whose actions showed they opposed the system.
‘Near-total’ net shutdown
Netblocks, an internet monitoring website, said late Saturday the country was in the grip of an internet shutdown.
“Confirmed: Iran is now in the midst of a near-total national internet shutdown; realtime network data show connectivity at 7% of ordinary levels after twelve hours of progressive network disconnections,” it said on Twitter.
Fresh demonstrations were held Saturday in the cities of Doroud, Garmsar, Gorgan, Ilam, Karaj, Khoramabad, Mehdishahr, Qazvin, Qom, Sanandaj, Shahroud and Shiraz, IRNA said.
“Some drivers have protested the new petrol price by turning off their cars and creating traffic jams.”
In Tehran protesters were seen blocking a road while elsewhere in the capital demonstrators gathered around a burning vehicle.
Similar scenes were witnessed in the central cities of Shiraz and Isfahan.
The pump price hike is expected to generate 300 trillion rials ($2.55 billion) per annum and help needy citizens, authorities said.
About 60 million Iranians would receive payments ranging from 550,000 rials ($4.68) for couples to slightly more than two million rials ($17.46) for families of five or more.
Under the scheme, drivers with fuel cards would pay 15,000 rials (13 US cents) a litre for the first 60 litres of petrol bought each month, with each additional litre costing 30,000 rials.
Fuel cards were first introduced in 2007 with a view to reforming the subsidies system and curbing large-scale smuggling.
Iran’s economy has been battered since May last year when President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from a 2015 nuclear agreement and reimposed crippling sanctions.
The rial has plummeted, inflation is running at more than 40 percent and the International Monetary Fund expects Iran’s economy to contract by nine percent this year and stagnate in 2020.
President Hassan Rouhani said 75 percent of Iranians were “under pressure” and the extra petrol revenues would go to them.
Rouhani had tried to hike fuel prices in December but was blocked by parliament after protests that rocked Iran for days.
The scheme comes at a sensitive time as Iran prepares for a February parliamentary election.
The head of Iran’s Planning and Budget Organisation, Mohammad Bagher Nobakht, said the price hike was agreed by the High Council of Economic Coordination made up of the president, parliament speaker and judiciary chief, implying it had across-the-board approval.
The council met again Saturday and, according to the government’s official website, urged the “cooperation of all branches to successfully implement the plan”.
Lawmakers were unhappy to have been circumvented, with Tehran MP Parvaneh Salahshouri tweeting that parliament had “lost its authority”.
In 2015, during his first term, Rouhani had voiced opposition to a dual-price petrol regime adopted by his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, saying “it caused corruption”.
His administration also scrapped Ahmadinejad’s fuel card scheme, only to revive it this year while still denying it was a precursor to rationing and price hikes.
The Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) has reacted to what it described as the sudden re-appearance of queues at some filling stations in the country.
In a statement on Sunday by its Executive Secretary, Abdulkadir Saidu, the PPPRA attributed the queues to speculation of a shortfall in the supply of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), popularly known as petrol.
It noted that has continued to monitor products supply in the petroleum sector, in line with best practices.
The agency explained that this was in line with its mandate to regulate petroleum products supply and distribution, as well as establish an industry data bank.
It disclosed that the average daily supply of petrol for the year 2017, 2018 and 2019 were about 46 million, 54 million and 56 million litres respectively.
According to PPPRA, the figures indicate an improved level of supply in 2019.
Based on the available data, it affirmed that there was an adequate supply of PMS with more than 21 days sufficiency.
“PPPRA, therefore, urges fuel consumers across the country to desist from panic buying as the agency would continue to monitor the supply situation and take every step required to ensure that there is no disruption in the supply chain,” the statement said.
The agency gave assurance that there was adequate product supply in the system to meet the demands of consumers.
The director of the Kenya Pipeline Company and four others have been arrested after millions of liters of petrol went missing in dubious circumstances, police said on Friday.
On October, 10 leading fuel marketers demanded an independent audit of KPC’s stock, suspecting up to 20 million liters had gone missing, with much of it falsely declared as “spillage”, and believed to have been stolen.
“We have five KPC officers including (managing director Joe) Sang in custody and we are processing them for their appearance in court,” said a senior detective involved in the arrest, who asked not to be named.
He said the official charges would be announced later.
The petroleum ministry confirmed the “arrest of the top management” in a statement, naming an interim managing director on Friday.
The government-owned KPC is tasked with overseeing the transport of imported fuel from coastal Mombasa to the rest of the country.
In an audit report before the Senate energy committee, company officials said 7.2 million liters of fuel had been lost to spillage, while another 4.4 million liters had been stolen.
However, oil marketers believe the true figures could be much higher.
Claims of false spillage reports have dogged KPC, with the latest accusations covering the past two years.
In a statement on Tuesday, the KPC board said oil marketers had been given until December 31 to carry out their own forensic stock audit.
The missing oil scandal is one of several that have erupted recently at KPC. Corruption accusations are also swirling around the construction of a new Mombasa-Nairobi pipeline, which has been hit by delays and allegations of inflated costs.
The arrests are the latest in a rare string of high-profile detentions of officials implicated in corruption in the graft-wracked nation.
Thousands of Bulgarians demonstrated across the country on Sunday against high fuel prices, blocking traffic in around 20 cities and on key highways to Greece and Turkey.
Protesters clashed with police in Burgas, where traffic was backed up around 10 kilometres (six miles) at several entry points to the Black Sea town, public radio BNR reported.
In the capital, Sofia around 1,000 demonstrators rallied outside the government offices shouting “Rubbish” and “Resign”.
“How can they sell petrol here at the same prices as in Spain and Luxembourg when we are the poorest country in the European Union?” asked taxi driver Ivan Naydenov.
A litre of petrol or diesel fuel costs around 2.40 leva ($1.13/1.2 euros), or $5.15 per gallon, after rising five per cent from August to October, in a country where the average salary is 575 euros per month.
Motorists are also paying higher taxes on polluting vehicles and higher prices for heating fuel.
Three major motorways and many smaller roads were closed for hours, impeding traffic in the southwest towards Greece, in the south towards Turkey and in the north of the country.
The police union issued a statement Sunday in support of the protests.
Ruling party lawmaker Emil Dimitrov accused the socialist opposition of being behind the protests organised through social media.
The head of the Federation of distributors of petrol and gas, Andrei Delchev, said Sunday that prices would start to go down in line with global trends.
“Expectations that international prices will rise after the imposition of US sanctions against Iran are unjustified,” he said.
The conservative government of Boyko Borisov says its fuel taxes are the lowest in the EU.
Protesters say the Russian company Lukoil has a near monopoly as the owner of the only oil refinery in Bulgaria and is in control of fuel depots.
Residents of Kaduna state have cried out to the government over the alleged refusal of some petrol marketers to sell the product at the approved pump price of N145 per litre.
Speaking to Channels Television’s correspondent in the state on Saturday, some residents said despite the increase in the daily supply of petrol to Kaduna state and environs by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), and the warning by the Department of Petroluem Resources (DPR) to sanction any marketer selling above N145 per litre, the product is still being sold as high as N190 per litre in some stations.
They also expressed frustration that despite not benefiting from lower global oil prices, they were still being short-changed by adjusted pumps by marketers.
Responding to the complaints, the Department of Petroleum Resources said that it was fully aware of the situation and the agency had caught and sanctioned over 10 petrol stations for various offences ranging from hoarding, under dispensing and selling above pump price.
DPR Zonal Controller in Kaduna state, Isa Tafida, who led the operation warned marketers to stick to the official pump price to make life easy for Nigerians or have their licenses withdrawn.
He said it was possible for oil marketers to sell petrol at the approved price and still make a decent profit, instead of indulging in sharp practices.
“You know that Hunkuyi is over one hundred kilometres away from Kaduna, so they are taking advantage of the remote location of this particular area to be selling above pump price.
“They were caught by our surveillance team selling a litre of petrol for N190 and they have about 13,000 litres underground selling to the public.
“So we locked up the station, now we are here to open it so that we can sell the product to the public.
“They are cheating members of the public on the price and also on the quantity. So I am calling on other marketers to know that they can’t take advantage of the location to hike the price, we are everywhere. There is no hidden place for any marketer to sell above pump price and we won’t catch him. Apart from sealing the station, the company must also pay a penalty of N100,000 per pump,” he said.
While relative stability gradually returns and queues at filling stations are reduced, many believe that one major to way to bring a stop to the issues is for the government to revive the country’s refineries.
The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) in Kano North West Nigeria is set to commence a special operation to raid fuel stations selling at night and above government regulated pump price.
Although the department is yet to identify marketers allegedly diverting the product, officials say they are collaborating with the DSS and other relevant security agencies to carry out night raids as part of efforts to end the crisis.
Kano state and other states of the federation have been struggling to get rid of the current fuel crisis that resulted in an untold hardship to motorists.
From six to eight trucks at the beginning of the crisis, the DPR, Buba Abubakar, said it has received 18 trucks since Friday and more will be delivered in the next coming days.
Although petrol queues have resurfaced in Kano metropolis, however, the DPR monitoring team has returned its offensive on those hoarding, selling at night and above the approved pump price.
For now, the DPR could not disclose the locations identified to have been selling the product either illegally or above the regulated price but the department assured Kano residents that soon enough the crisis of petrol will become a thing of the past.