By Chris Chmezie, Victor Akinkuolie &Mary Agidi
Ondo State Government has warned that it would revoke the license of any filling station that hoard petroleum products in the state.
The Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Special Duties and Strategy , Dr Doyin Odebowale, who gave the warning while monitoring petrol stations in Akure stressed that the Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, led administration will not allow petrol dealers to exploit innocent citizens of the state.
The monitoring team sealed off a filling station, at Isolo area of Akure for hoarding petrol worth 11,000 litres in its reservoir.
It was not business as usual as motorists were full of excitement when the state government team ordered petrol stations to sell fuel to them at other filling stations visited in Akure.
During the monitoring exercise in Oke Aro, High School, Isolo, Ilesa-Owo express way all in the state capital, five filling stations were discovered to have hoarded 17,000 litres to 3,500 litres in their underground tanks.
Speaking to newsmen during the exercise, Odebowale who led the team on the inspection described the attitude of petrol dealers boarding fuel as wicked that the essence of the inspection was to ensure that motorists in the state get fuel.
Odebowale warned that any filling station henceforth caught in the act of hoarding will not find it funny with the move of government on the matter.
”The Governor has asked us to move round and ensure that we lessen the sufferings of the people because we have received several complaints on the sharp practices of some fuel marketers.
“So many of these stations are hoarding fuel and we won’t stand this. Anyone who dares (Thursday) to hoard fuel will lose his license.
“After today (Thursday), if we find any station that hoards fuel, we will dispense the fuel free of charge to the public,” he warned.
Corroborating his view, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Security Matters, Alhaji Jimoh Dojumo also frowned at the development and assured that the state government will not leave any stone unturned towards ensuring that petrol stations sell fuel to the people at approved price.
The Acting Operation Manager of the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR in Ondo State, Emmanuel Adewole explained that the agency will not hesitate to sanction erring petroleum stations that do not comply with their directive.
”When we noticed the scarcity on Monday, we mobilised our men for monitoring. We will apply sanctions to any station caught hoarding fuel,” he said.
Filling Stations in Okitipupa, headquarters of Okitipupa Local Government Area of Ondo State closed shops to customers on Wednesday morning as the wind of the rumour of increase of petroleum prices blew across the land.
Those that sold petrol (pms) early in the day along the Ikoya road sold far above the approved N145.00 per litre.
They had a field day as they sold at N200.00 per liter throughout the day while others that started sales around midday sold at N160.00 per litre.
On the contrary however, Bovas which did not open until around 10.00am sold at its old rate of N143.00
The ugly situation which spread across the council area remained the same on Thursday morning, as The Hope gathered.
Consumers who spoke with our reporter expressed disappointment in the dealers whom they described as saboteurs.
The Branch Chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Okitipupa, Mr. Orimisan Betiku called on governments at the state and federal levels to take urgent step to nip the development in the bud so that it will not spread to the yuletide period.
Mr. Boluwaji Alo, a retired police officer called on royal fathers to call the petrol dealers to order as there are already too much sufferings in the land..
Meanwhile, residents of Akure, the Ondo State capital and all other major towns in the state were yesterday with long queue at various filling stations due to the scarcity of Premium, Motor Spirit otherwise known as petrol.
Moving around the city of Akure, The Hope saw long queue of people with gallons and motorists which extended to the major roads at petrol stations.
At Forte Petrol station beside Ijapo police station, the queue from the filing station ended at the main road causing traffic gridlock.
Also at Oda road, people were seen with gallons on long separate queues waiting to be attended to aside motorists who were seen vacating their cars on the queues to take fresh air.
Expectedly, motorcyclists in most areas of Akure have hiked their fares while taxi drivers are yet to increase price from fare.
In Ondo town, during the week , headquarters of Ondo West Local Government area of the state, some independent marketers shut their gates against motorists.
Queues were noticed at few filling stations that have the product in some parts of the city, the development which made some motorists to groan.
When our correspondents went round the city to monitor the situation, motorists and commuters including residents were scrambling for the product.
The Hope gathered that the two filling stations owned by the Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC) in the city were selling the product at the approved pump price of N145, per litre with moderate queues.
Some independent marketers that have the product were selling to motorists at selected pump points while others were shut down.
One of the motorists who gave his name as Mr. Kunle Eegunjobi, told our correspondent that he had waited for about thirty minutes at the NNPC filling station before he could get the product since the filling station was only selling with one pump.
He called for government intervention to curb the menace of alleged hoarding of the product by some independent marketers.
Similarly, a commercial motorcycle operator in the city, one Idowu Akinbuli, lamented over the development which he said has caused temporary set back to his commercial business. He also urged the government to expedite action to check the menace of hoarding by the independent marketers.