FUEL RACKETING: Storey Building Razed Down by Fire

Scarcity of petroleum products in Ika land, Delta State, and indeed, the entire country is beginning to assume another ugly dimension. In a bid to make huge, and oftentimes, illegitimate profits, petroleum dealers have allowed their pump attendants to engage in sharp practices to the detriment of their hapless customers. Sometimes prices other than the federal government stipulated prices are placed on petroleum products. Worse still is the fact that pump attendants now sell to customers who load their vehicles or motorcycles with plastic containers to filling stations to buy fuel in order to resell to consumers.

Media houses have been relaying news of recent happenings concerning kerosene explosion and vehicle engine problems due to adulterated petroleum products. Despite the several warnings given by the different state fire services in the country, desperate Nigeria youths who are desperate to eke out a living for themselves, have resulted in all manners of petroleum sales and distribution. And the adverse effect of this is that properties worth millions of naira, and sometime, lives of both the guilty and innocent have been lost to petroleum racketing in the country.

At about 2.00mp on Monday, November 30, 2009, several calls were made to Ika Weekly newspaper concerning a storey building situated along New Benin Lagos/Asaba express road, Ekwuoma, Ika North East Local Government. It was a report on the burning of the storey building which was due to fuel storage at the premises of the building. It was gathered that when the fire started, occupants of the storey building began to run helter skelter, trying to salvage some of their household goods some of those who lived upstairs were said to have jumped out through every available exit other than the staircase which was completely engulfed by the inferno. As the fire kept on raging within and outside the building, men of the state fire service, Agbor unit arrived the scene. By the time they eventually put out the fire, almost half of the building has been burnt. Empty drums of fuel were seen littering everywhere behind the building, burnt fire extinguishers were also collected from the debris.

Some of those interviewed who pleaded anonymity said that the building has become a sort of fuel depot for black marketers. He said it was high time something was done about it; and blamed it on the economic situation in the country. They said that if the government can provide alternative jobs for the youths in the area, such ugly incident will no longer occur.

As at the time of visit to the affected building, occupants were seen seated close to their retrieved household goods, some, crying over their loses, while others remained speechless over the misfortune that befell them. The landlord of the storey building could not be reached as at the time of filing this report. He was said to be residing outside the village.

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