Uche Usim, Abuja
A concerted effort to prevent fire outbreak and other environmental hazards has led to the clampdown on illegal cooking gas dealers nationwide by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
The two agencies commenced the onslaught in Abuja on Wednesday where they raided various areas in the Federal Capital Territory to flush out LPG (cooking gas) retailers and skid operators. Five illegal operators were arrested during the raid and will be prosecuted to serve as sufficient deterrent to potential culprits of illegal cooking gas sales.
The team went to Galadimawa, Lokogoma (particularly Sunny Vale estate) and other areas within the city.
The team nabbed various illegal operators dispensing gas in very dangerous circumstances without recourse to laid down safety precautions.
Commenting on the development while sacking illegal outlets in Galadimawa, DPR Head of Gas, Umar Gwandu said the environment could easily be engulfed by fire in an accident.
“This place can easily explode if there is any spark, even with a very tiny leakage. Once there is a spark, this place is gone.
“We have come here severally as you can see from our seal. These people are not ready to comply. If there is any spark here this place can go up in flames in seconds. Look at the immediate environment with gas,” Gwandu stated.
According to him, basic/standard minimum requirements like fire extinguishers/detectors, water sprinkler, temperature gauge, pressure and volume gauge among others were usually not available various illegal facilities.
In an interview after the raid, the Zonal Operations Controller DPR Abuja Zonal Office, Buba Abubakar said the team visited about 16 retail plants on Wednesday, adding that 14 illegal outlets were sealed.
“The reason we went out today was to make sure everybody has permit to operate. If you don’t have permit, you should come to the office and with the necessary requirements you will get your permit. We are looking at the safety of the people, their lives and property. By the time you come to the office, we will be able to tell you the things you need to have a retail outlet.
“But the way it is now, somebody just wakes up one day and before you know it, he has a retail outlet which is not acceptable. We are here to help every Nigerian. If you really want to have a retail outlet or LPG plant, you come to the office, we will tell you all the necessary requirement in terms of documentation and safety and by the time you get these things done we will process them for you before you are allowed to run a legal outlet”, he explained.
On requirements and cost of set up, Abubakar said: “I can’t tell you how much is required to set up but the requirements are that you have to have your company papers, the site must meet our requirement. You can’t go to a government land and mount your vessel there and start selling. We will tell you the size of the land, measurement from vessel to the fence and whether it is residential, school or mosque.”
On whether the clampdown was consistent with federal government’s policy to encourage LPG penetration, he said: “Yes, we want this gas to be everywhere but let it be done legally. And in line with the Federal government’s ease of doing business, that’s why we tell them to come to the office, we are ready to assist any marketer that wants to establish any facility for LPG or retail outlet to assist and make sure they get their permit very fast.
Abubakar added that those arrested have been handed to the NSCDC for further actions and prosecution.
With regard to how the illegal gas dealers get their supplies he said: “They have gas marketers that they get these things from. That is why we sensitise even the major players that they should not just be selling gas to anyhow retailer because he has to present his permit before you sell gas because gas is very volatile than PMS,” he added.