The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) on Tuesday said about 35 per cent of filling stations in Port Harcourt willingly adjusted their meters with intent to cheat unsuspecting customers.
Mr Bassey Nkanga, Operations Controller, DPR, Port Harcourt Zone, made the disclosure at a meeting with petroleum marketers in Port Harcourt on Tuesday.
Stakeholders at the meeting were members of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), among others.
Nkanga said the discovery was made during routine surveillance of filling stations in the city, adding that the affected stations had been sealed off and barred from doing business.
“One of the major problems common in Port Harcourt is that so many filling stations adjusted their pumps to cheat customers.
“Statistically, about 30 per cent to 35 per cent of the stations we visited had pump problems. These stations were fined and sanctioned for selling above government approved price.
“So, based on this development, we invited IPMAN, MOMAN and other stakeholders to share our findings and to tell them to inform their members to stop these unwholesome practice.
Nkanga said that under-dispensing, over-dispensing, operating without valid licence and selling adulterated petroleum products attracted heavy fines and severe sanctions.
“Some of the illegalities we discovered during our surveillance in July are that marketers under dispensed petroleum products while some operated without valid licence.
“So, we are appealing to marketers to renew their licence and ensure that their pumps work efficiently as offenders would have their stations sealed from doing business.
“There is really no need why a marketer should cheat the public because aside being caught and paying huge fines, such filling stations would lose customers,” he said.
Nkanga wondered why some marketers had not come forward to regularise their permit especially as it cost between N17,000 to N22,000 to process such document.
The department, he said, would commence a new license regime starting Oct. 1, for renewal of documents covering 2020 to 2021.
The DPR boss debunked statements that many filling stations in the Port Harcourt sold illegally refined petroleum products that had reportedly damaged engines of many vehicles.
“To this end, our surveillance teams are yet to find any filling station selling adulterated fuel inside Port Harcourt. We commend marketers for not selling fake products,” he added.
Emmanuel Inimgba, Chairman of Rivers branch of IPMAN, thanked and assured DPR of members’ full cooperation and compliance to stipulated regulations in downstream petroleum sector.
He attributed the delay in renewal of licences to impediments some members had in securing their tax clearance at the Federal Inland Revenue Service.