By Raphael Eze
The Enugu State Government on Friday, threatened to shut down petrol stations that are manipulating their meters to exploit motorists and other consumers of the product.
The state described it as criminal for petroleum dealers in the state to exploit consumers through deliberate manipulation of metres while dispensing fuel inaccurately, insisting that such sharp practices would no longer be allowed to thrive in the state.
While urging the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, to ensure that filling stations comply with an accurate metering system, the government assured residents of its genuine concern for their plight in the hands of the exploiters.
Commissioner for Special Duties, Mr Emeka Ajogwu, gave the warning during an unscheduled visit to some petrol stations in Enugu metropolis to ascertain the alleged metre manipulation by filling station owners.
In all the stations visited it was observed that none had an accurate metering system, including the major distributing stations.
Ajogwu, while addressing journalists shortly after the inspection, said that the government had been inundated with complaints from residents and motorists operating in the state that they were being shortchanged at petrol stations even with the high cost of the product, adding it informed the decision to visit stations for confirmation.
Ajogwu lamented the insensitivity of the dealers who under-supplied the product purchased by consumers, saying the days of such manipulation would soon come to an end as severe measures were being taken by the appropriate authorities against erring dealers.
He wondered why petrol station dealers would exploit buyers, adding that the sharp practice was “unacceptable”.
He said that Governor Peter Mbah’s administration was committed to making life better for the people and would not fold its arms to watch citizens strangulated without intervention.
According to him, “Over 20 filing stations visited adjusted their metres and sold between N600- N620 per litre, respectively. It was confirmed that for every 20 litres of petrol bought, consumers were shortchanged ₦768.60, ₦702, ₦682.00, ₦575 ₦441.60, ₦480, ₦256.2 respectively.”
The commissioner, who was accompanied by other government officials, cautioned the station managers and directed them to re-adjust their metres to the accurate metering system.
He said the monitoring will be a regular exercise, assuring that the state government will come up with commensurate punishment against defaulters.
Some customers who witnessed the exercise commended the state government for the steps taken and appealed that the action should be on a regular basis, stressing that they had suffered untold hardships at the hands of some filling stations.
“We are not getting value for our money. These people are manipulating us. We have protested against this injustice but nothing positive has come out of it.
“I am glad the government is taking a decisive step to end this manipulation,” a commercial bus driver, Emeka Obinna, said.