From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
The Department for Petroleum Resources (DPR) in Rivers State has sealed about 46 illegal gas outlets in the State .
The agency said, it has also rejected over 20 applications for licenses by gas dealers over failure to meet with the standard requirements for operations.
The DPR Zonal Controller in Port Harcourt, Bassey Nkanga, disclosed this in the State after a week-long routine monitoring exercise by the agency.
Nkanga said, it would be too expensive to allow illegal gas dealers to operate in the State; a situation he insisted would lead to explosions, destructions of lives and properties.
He added that the exercise was informed by the need to urgently stop the frequent cases of gas explosion mostly caused by illegal gas retail outlets.
Some of the shops sealed were in Ikwere road, Rumola, D/Line, Illabuchi and Goveremnet Reserved Areas (GRA), Abuloma, Rumumasi, Ojoto, Nsuka, Choba, Ogbogoro, Eagle Island, Iwofe, Alakahia, Peter Odili and PortHarcourt township in Obio/Akpor and PortHarcourt local government areas of the state.
The DPR zonal boss said, “the essence of the exercise is to ensure that those operating illegally does not continue. The implications of allowing them to operate is too expensive which may result to explosion. If the operate where they are not suppose to ,it will lead to damages of lives and properties”.
He explained that gas dealers should operate in a well ventilated place, where there is no naked flame or spark and should stop trans-filling of gas from cylinder to cylinder
” We rejected over 20 application because they did not meet our requirements and we sealed 24 gas outlets, we are very dedicated to this task because the consequences are too expensive. We have been doing public awareness to enlighten the masses more” He stated.
He warned operators of illegal LPG outlets to desist from it or face the wrath of the law from the DPR. “Anyone who will be caught engaging in the illegal business henceforth would be handed over to security agencies,” he warned.
The Controller noted that the government have recently stopped customers’ ownership of cylinders as well as barring refilling of gas cylinders by the roadsides and other unauthorized places.
He called on the public to report operations of any illegal gas refilling point in their neighbourhoods to the law enforcement agencies or to DPR for proper sanction.
Some of the gas retail outlets dealers in an interview expressed willingness to comply with the directives and guidelines but blamed the delay in compliance to lack of funds and their association leader who planned to defraud them.
A resident, Mr.Emeka Friday, described the exercise as a welcome development which according to him would guarantee safety but he stressed the need for adequate sensitization and awareness to the public and the gas dealers.