The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) has urged the government at all levels to intensify efforts to check the operations of illegal refineries in the country.
IPMAN’s President, Mr Chinedu Okoronkwo, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Lagos.
Okoronkwo said the recent explosion at one of the illegal refineries at Abaezi forest in Ohaji-Egbema Local Government Area of Imo had again brought to the forefront the dangers of engaging in such nefarious activities.
He said: “IPMAN as a body commiserates with the government and people of Imo over the deaths and injuries recorded in the incident.
“We believe this tragedy could have been averted if the various tiers of government and the security agencies were alive to their responsibilities.
“We are, therefore, calling on the local, state and federal governments to intensify efforts to check the operations of these illegal refineries within their domains.”
Okoronkwo said Nigeria was losing billions of naira to crude oil thieves, which was affecting the nation’s economy negatively.
He added that the environmental degradation being caused by their activities could not be overemphasized, especially in the Niger Delta region.
Okoronkwo urged other state governors to emulate Rivers Governor, Nyesom Woke, who had taken the campaign against oil bunkering in the state very seriously.
He said on its part, IPMAN would continue to work with the government, security agencies and other stakeholders to find a lasting solution to the challenges confronting the oil and gas industry.
“We believe that part of the ways we can reduce their activities is for governments to begin the establishment of modular refineries in some of these areas.
“If these people are positively engaged, the problem of oil theft and illegal refineries will be reduced in Nigeria,” Okoronkwo said.