By Ruth Oginyi
No fewer than 18 gas filling stations said to be operating illegally in Abakaliki were on Thursday sealed Ebonyi State government.
The affected gas stations are located at Onu Ebonyi , Ogoja road PRESCO Campus, Ugwu Achara , Kpirikpiri and other major streets in the state capital.
Sealing of the stations followed the directive by the State Governor, David Umahi that illegal gas stations operating in the state should be closed down with immediate effect.
The governor had on Wednesday through his special Assistant on Media, Francis Nweze, said the decision to shut down the stations was to avert possible outbreak of fire incidents in the state especially in the harmattan period.
Following the directive, a task force comprising officials of the Capital Territory Development Board (ACTDB) and office of the Commissioner for Security and Peace, Stanley Okoro Emegha, the Special Adviser on Petroleum, Basil Chima led the team for the sealing of the affected station.
Speaking to Journalists during the operation, Mr Onyibe Chima, Special Assistant on Petroleum and Gas to the governor explained that the state government had mapped out land for gas stations but the operators have refused to move to the site.
Adding that only one station in the city has all the approvals and licences to operate in the state.
Chairman of ACTDB, Uche Onwe on his part, noted that the state cannot afford to seat and watch the state destroyed by carelessness of the operators who have continued to build the stations close to residential areas.
“The state capital today has been transformed into one of the most beautiful cities in the country and we cannot allow it to be put into danger”, he said.
The Commissioner for Security and Peace, Emeigha, while reacting said the stations will remain closed till they upgrade their facilities to the specified standard.
“To have approval (to build) is different from license to sell from DPR. We have sealed them before but how they managed to reopen is what I don’t know.
“They were also asked to come forward with licence and letter of approval for operation to the capital territory”, he stated.
It was observed that some of the gas stations were still attending to costumers when the task force stormed the stations forcing buyers to leave without buying the product.