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The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) in conjunction with the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) Thursday arrested five illegal dealers of the Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) also known as cooking gas in Abuja.

The suspects however refused to reveal their names to the security agents and journalists as the DPR went out to rid the FCT and environs of the illegal activities of LPG (cooking gas) retailers and skid operators.

The team went to Galadimawa, Lokogoma axis particularly Sunny Vale estate and other surburbs within the city raised the alarm on sighting the precarious situation in which the dealers were vending the cooking gas without any safety measure.

Speaking, the DPR Head of Gas Engr. Umar Gwandu said at an illegal outlet in Galadimawa during the inspection: “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. This 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.”

He said basic/standard minimum requirements like fire extinguishers/detectors, water sprinkler, temperature gauge, pressure and volume gauge among others were not present in other illegal facilities.

The Zonal Operations Controller DPR Abuja zonal office Engr. Buba Abubakar said in an interview after the inspection.

“We visited about 16 retail plants. We were able to seal about 14 that were operating illegally.

The reason we went out 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.

When asked what the requirements are and how much is required to set up, he 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.”

When asked whether the clampdown was in line with the 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.

When asked what would happen to the people arrested, he said “We are going to prosecute them. The NSCDC will do that.”

When asked how they (illegal operators get their products), he said “They have gas marketers that they get this 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.”

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