Residents of Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, angry at the Federal Government’s failure to address the perennial fuel scarcity in the country, yesterday, yelled and threw stones at officials of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), who were on surveillance visit to some filling stations across the state.
The residents and motorists shouted that instead of the federal government agency to make Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), otherwise known as petrol, available, it was busy monitoring filling stations.
The angry residents, who were at various filling stations during the DPR visit, said what they wanted was fuel, saying they are miffed at government’s inability to address the fuel crisis in the country.
They asked the DPR to leave the filling stations owners, especially the independent markers, to sell at their discretionary prices, since they alleged that they buy at exorbitant prices from private depots outside the state.
Meanwhile, the DPR has sealed about nine pumps in various filling stations for sundry offences, including hoarding, price hike and under-dispensing of PMS to consumers.
Its Port Harcourt Zonal Operations Controller, Dr. Ibani Frank-Briggs, in his reaction to threats by the angry residents, explained that it was not the duty of DPR to make products available, stressing that its duty was to ensure that products are sold at government approved pump prices and also dispensed accordingly.
He said: “We know that there is fuel scarcity and that is why people are facing such situations, but I want to assure the public that the sufferings and pains would soon be over, as government is committed to ensuring the products are available soon.”
He reckoned that if PMS should be deregulated the same way kerosene and diesel are deregulated, the fuel challenges would be over.
Meanwhile, petroleum marketers have decried the situation, saying garri and crayfish sellers are now better than them.
One of them, who is the Chairman of Anele Petroleum Limited at Iwofe Road, Chief Phil Anele, said most of the pump sellers have been sacked, because marketers have no products for months and could no longer cope with payment of their salaries.
“A lot of marketers who took loans from banks have shut down completely, because since there is no product to sell, the profit and capital have been touched; hence we can no longer cope with the bank demands,” he added.
He called on the Federal Government to rise up and do something urgently to fix the old refineries, build new ones and activate the modular refineries to address the challenges in the downstream oil sector.
A motorist, Victor Amadi, told newsmen that they were buying the products at over N200 per litre due to frustrations, noting that nobody was happy to buy fuel at such high prices.