Notwithstanding the sustained attack on the locations of illegal refineries by operatives of the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta, activities of the operators have continued to increase due to patronage they enjoy from certain independent marketers says a leading member of the Peoples Democratic Party in Rivers State.
According to Hon Daddy West, the rise in the number of these illegal refineries in region is now a source of concern because of its damning consequences to both the health and economy of the people of the Niger Delta.
Hon. West who spoke to journalists in River State at the weekend noted with regret that the emergence of illegal refineries had affected quality of petroleum products in the region, a situation in which he lamented that many families and corporate organizations have lost their automobile engines and other generating machines due to adulteration.He added that some retail outlets in the area were selling adulterated Kerosene and other petroleum products owing to their patronage of illegal refineries.
According to him, over ten cases of kerosene explosions resulting in first and second degree burns had been recorded in various states in the region owing to the fact that independent marketers due to greed and in pursuit of selfish interests fail to consider the end users of the adulterated products.
“I can tell you that the illegal refineries are thriving today because there is market for it. If the marketers stop patronizing them, they will fold up. But in as much as these unscrupulous marketers engage in the illicit trade, the operators of the illegal refineries will continue to be in business. Doesn’t it beat your imagination that despite the increased destruction of their refining facilities, more and more people are joining the fray? That means that it is beneficial and the
people to blame are squarely the marketers,” he said.
Hon. West said that though the special security forces had in the last couple of months destroyed no fewer than 2000 of such outfits known for pumping the adulterated killer kerosene and diesel into the market and further compounding the woes of the already fragile environment, more illegal refineries have continued to spring up in the mangrove swamp of the region.
“I call on the regulators to play their vital role by being vigilant to check the retail outlets in the region from pushing the cooked up product to the market, as that will endanger the lives of the people if the trend continues unchecked”, he said.
He continued that the only genuine supply channels of petroleum products in the country are through PPMC, an arm of NNPC, major marketing companies and some private companies, of which NNPC is the major provider and wonders why some marketer shun the genuine products. “Despite the number of companies that do import these products into the country, in addition to the ones produced by the government refineries, some independent marketers still find it convenient and prefer the illicit trade because it comes cheaper to them, without considering the adverse effect it will have on the fragile environment, health and wellbeing of the people in the region,” he stated.
Therefore, Hon. West admonished consumers to always shun patronizing the independent marketers as most of them are culprits in the act. “I will advise my people to buy products only from marketers that have names to protect, such people will never near the illicit products because they know the importance of their reputation over the momentary gain of selling adulterated products if caught by the law enforcement agents”.
Hon. West attributed the surge to most unemployed youths in the region and ex-militants that have taken to the illicit but lucrative trade and other spate of pipelines vandalization and crude oil theft in the region.