Disaster looms as illegal filling stations liter residential areas
Blame Regulatory Bodies – LUPAN
Unless the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) moves urgently to clamp down on illegal filling stations littered around residential areas in the country, lives and property will continue to be in terrible danger.
This is because, siting of fuel stations in residential areas is becoming fashionable. Though, DPR data showed 86 illegal filling stations around the country, The Guardian findings revealed that there are over 200 indiscriminate location of such.
For example, there is a filling station springing up around Amuwo Odofin area of Lagos, with the operator turning deaf ears to several DPR warning signs at the site to desist from the construction.
A few checks also revealed that some people in the neighbourhood actually wanted to stall the development – however, their protestation did not make the desired impact.
The Guardian gathered that the situation is even worse in rural areas where there is little or no presence of DPR officials. DPR Director, Modecai Ladan, said the agency had already clamped down on the illegal filling stations, saying the agency is collaborating with other agencies and relevant stakeholders to tackle the problem.
Speaking on the indiscriminate siting of filling stations in residential areas, Secretary General/Chief Executive Officer, Lubricants Producers Association of Nigeria (LUPAN), Emeka Obidike, attributed it to sharp malpractices between the regulatory bodies and operators.
He described the practice as a time boom, which the Federal Government and the relevant authorities have refused to tackle Obidike said: “It is alarming how tank farms and filling stations are sited indiscriminately. Look at Kirikiri and Navy town for example; the tank farms are so close to the armories. Any little ignition will set the whole-area ablaze. The Federal Government needs to step in urgently and ensure the relocation of any filling station around residential areas. The regulatory bodies should avoid compromising in the issuance of licenses to operate filling stations.”
Also, oil and gas analyst/ Managing Director, Zenera Consulting, Meja Olowola, stressed the need for relevant authorities to take an audit of all existing filling stations to ensure filling stations are sited professionally.
He said there is need for the DPR to evaluate the basis of licenses issued to existing filling stations to ascertain that they have been done correctly and professionally.
“There is possibility that development has caught up with some filling stations, which were not originally in residential areas at the time of construction.
There are instances, whereby; the state government gave approval for residential building around existing filling stations. There should be special working committee that will include various tiers of government so that they will be able to work harmoniously to ensure that things are done correctly,” he added.
A copy of the guidelines for operating a filling station was made available to The Guardian by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR); it stated that operators of filling stations are expected to follow a well-laid-down rules and regulations, which are designed to be tolerably environmental friendly when effectively observed.
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