Petroleum marketers in Imo State have said that based on current realities they cannot sell petrol at the official pump price of N86.50 per litre.
The marketers said this while decrying the sealing of filling stations in the state by Department of Petroleum Resources for allegedly selling petrol above official price.
The Chairman, Association of Imo State Petroleum Marketers/Dealers, Chief Christopher Amadi, said over 50 filling stations were sealed in the last one month.
Amadi said in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday in Owerri that dealers no longer got supply from the NNPC depots in Aba, Enugu and Port Harcourt.
According to him, the development has forced the marketers to source petroleum products from private tank farms in Port Harcourt, Calabar and Uyo.
“Owners of the petroleum tank farms do sell petrol at a relatively higher price.This clandestine business is the reason behind selling petrol above N86.50 per litre at the privately owned filling stations in parts of the state,” he said.
He maintained that until the shoddy deal was stopped it would be difficult for marketers to sell at the approved pump price.
“Our claim is verifiable; security agencies and the media can investigate it and we are not happy operating under such a condition,” he said.
When contacted, an Assistant Director (Operations), DPR, Owerri office, Mr. Ernest Chukwu, said the department shut down the stations because they sold the product above N86.50 per litre.
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Chukwu, who did not give the number of closed stations, said that the mandate of DPR was to enforce the sale of petrol at the official price.
He said, “DPR has nothing to do with the supply and sourcing of petrol, our mandate is only to enforce the government-approved pump price.
“The ex-depot price has not changed from N76.50 per litre for Premium Motor Spirit. The marketers are expected to sell at N86.50 per litre, no matter where and how much they buy it.’’
The assistant director said that every filling station shut down paid fine of N100, 000 before it was reopened.
“Marketers have the right to sell kerosene according to the market forces because the product is fully de-regulated,” he said.
Chukwu advised Imo people to report any marketer who sold PMS above the official rate.
He said the office would soon make public the telephone lines through which it could be contacted about the issue.
NAN reports that some of the stations that re-opened for business still sold the product above the official pump price.