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Criminalising use of generators

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Fuel-ScarcitySIR: It seems that the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), has surreptitiously outlawed the use of generators powered by Petroleum Motor Spirit (PMS). Most filling stations in Abuja refuse to sell PMS into jerry cans allegedly upon directive from DPR. Fuel attendants even insist that the generator tank or the generator itself is hauled to the petrol station.

The rationale behind DPR’s directive seems to be to prevent hoarding, dangerous storage, and illegal sale of PMS by black marketers.

Nowhere do the laws criminalise the discharge of a reasonable quantity of PMS into reasonably sized jerry cans for private use in generators. The aim of the DPR to prevent hoarding and unlicensed sale of PMS by black marketers is laudable but it needs to be modified to avoid punishing innocent Nigerians who need PMS to power their generators

It is, however, doubtful that the DPR directive is supported by law. A perusal of the extant laws such as the Petroleum Act Cap P10, LFN 2004 and the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap M17, LFN 2004, which regulate the sale and distribution of petroleum products indicate that what is prohibited is the sale of PMS without a licence. Also prohibited is the storage of PMS in a commercial or dangerous quantity without a licence and adequate storage facilities.

Nowhere do the laws criminalise the discharge of a reasonable quantity of PMS into reasonably sized jerry cans for private use in generators.

The aim of the DPR to prevent hoarding and unlicensed sale of PMS by black marketers is laudable but it needs to be modified to avoid punishing innocent Nigerians who need PMS to power their generators. In fact, despite the best efforts of DPR, fuel hawkers still sell fuel because they circumvent the ban on jerry cans by dragging generators or generator tanks to the petrol station or they buy petrol in motorcycles. The petrol is later siphoned out of the generator or motorcycle and sold.

The appropriate approach for the DPR would be to focus on finding more ingenuous and effective methods of halting the illegal sale of PMS. The blanket prohibition of discharge into jerry cans at filling stations only serves to encourage black market activity.

• Chukwukasi Anaekwe,
Abuja, FCT


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