It is like a double-edged battle for Borno state gov’t as it fights dual war of ensuring the state is free from Corona Virus as well as tackling dubious fuel marketers causing artificial scarcity in the state. Writes SADIQ ABUBAKAR.
As Borno state govenrnent takes drastic measures against the spread of the dreaded Corona Virus otherwise known as Covid -19 in the state, it also set up a timely and high- powered committee headed by the state deputy govenror, Alhaji Usman Umar Kadafur, which swung into action to prevent any suspected case of the outbreak during the lockdown even as the government also ordered the shutdown of schools, offices, motor parks, airport, borders or entries in and out of the state, restriction of vehicular movements, shutdown of social gathering, among others.With all of these going on, petroleum marketers in the state cashed in on the situation to hoard petroleum products thereby leading to increase in prices, a development that made the state government to descend heavily on some erring filling stations. To that extent, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) warned petroleum markertets in Borno and Yobe states not to take advantage of Covid-19 lockdown to hoard or sell petroleum product above government approved pump price.
DPR warned marketers
Similarly, Govenror Zulum accused traders and commercial riders of hoarding foodstuff and fares respectively against governemnts directive and declared war against saboteours and violators. The zonal operations controller of DPR North-east, Ibrajim Ciroma, while addressing newsmen at the office Maiduguri said any marketer who takes advantage of the lockdown to sell above government approved pump price will be severely sanctioned.”We have deployed our staff across the state to monitor the fuel stations and any station found selling above the pump price or hoarding fuel would risk revocation of licence. I urge the public not to panic as we have over 1 million litres on ground,” he stated.On the issue of long queues in the state capital, Alhaji Ciroma said, “We received only three trucks last Friday, four trucks on Saturday and no supply on Sunday but three on Monday, nine on Tuesday and Wednesday 23 trucks for Borno and Yobe states. You can see that supply is now improving and very soon, we would have enough fuel. We are also expecting over 100 trucks including 10 trucks intervention supply from Gombe depot”, he said.
Zulum had warned against scarcity
Similarly, in his efforts to ensure petroleum markers did not take the advantage of the lockdown to create artificial scarcity, Governor Babagana Zulum went round some stations where he ordered the revocation of the Right of Occupancy of some stations he accused of hoarding fuel.In a statement by the secretary to the state government (SSG), government said it has temporarily revoked the licence of 19 fuel stations over hording.The statement said, “Borno state government has observed with dismay that some fuel stations operating within state capital do not dispense petroleum products in accordance with the federal government regulations. The fuel stations also engage in economic sabortage by hoarding petroleum products and selling them above the approved price.”The action of these fuel stations and their owners and operators are condemnable as they deliberately take advantage of Covid-19 pandemic to create untold hardship on the general public,” the statement added.Reacting to this, Ciroma said there was a communication gap between the state government, DPR and the marketers.”There was what we call dead stock which is between 300 to 1000 litres and the other four fuel stations were having fuel meant for the military operations. Even the day that the incident occurred, the military were in my office and I told them that they need DPR approval to stock those quantity of feul after which they went to write officially.”
IPMAN urged gov’t to carry members along
Also reacting, chairman of IPMAN in the state, Alhaji Mohammed Kulwu Ngala said, “We constituted a committee to monitor the activities of our members to ensure nobody hoards fuel. We also went round but did not find any member wanting. What the governor found was what we call dead stock which cannot be despensed because it would not be pumped out, while the other fuel stations were stocking military fuel.”We urge the federal government to always carry us along while trying yo adjust petroleum pump price upward or downward so that we would know how to mitigate our loses,” he added.
The IPMAN chairman further urged the general public not to panic as they have about 100 trucks for Maiduguri, saying the scarcity was a result number of stock they received in the previous week.
Earlier, few days into the lockdown, Govenror Zulum in a state broadcast assured the people of the state government readiness to handle the situation.Thereafter, a statement issued and made available to press men by the SSG also reiterated that governemnt would also not hesitate to close down any other filling station caught commiting such illegal act like hoarding of fuel or selling it at above the approved fuel pump price.
The statement reads, “The filling stations are also engaged in economic sabotage by hoarding petroleum products and selling them above the approved price. The actions of these fueling stations, their owners and operators is condemnable.”
Revocation of licences
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Following the directives by Governor Zulum on the temporal withdrawal of Right of Occupy of 10 filling stations within Maiduguri and Jere environs, the executive secretary of the state Geographic Information Service, Engr Adam B. Bababe and members of the agency have embarked on enforcement visit to the affected filling stations to ensure strict compliance in line with the directive of Governor Zulum which directed the filling stations in question to stop work and their Rights of Occupancy revoked.Engr Bababe said the notice to the filling stations also mandated them to come along with thier relevant documents to BOGIS office for further clarification and necessary action.Some of the affected filling stations are Tafida Bafari and Co lnt Kano Road, Muazu Idris Baga Road, Oil link opposite flour mills, Total Filling Station Kano Road. Others include A.A Rano also located along Kano Road, Nan Nam Kano Road, Kai Masha Allahu Kano Road, Alhaji Bukar Kolo Kano Road, Gnile by pass and Kabs Merchant Ltd in Damboa.After all these,Gov Zulum finally called an emergency meeting with representatives of DPR, IPMAN, NNPC,PTD, NURTW and other stakeholders where they put heads together towards finding a lasting solution to the lingering crisis as the state also experience the current lockdown.