It is now obvious that illegal refiners are the major suppliers of kerosene in the Niger Delta.

One is wont to think so because the renewed operations of the Joint Military Task Force in the Niger Delta, codenamed, Operation Delta Safe, has resulted in the shortage of kerosene in some parts of Bayelsa and Rivers states.

It was learnt that the scarcity of kerosene followed a raid by the OPDS operatives on illegal refinery sites in Okaki, Rivers and Nembe in Bayelsa State.

Investigation revealed that the bulk of kerosene and diesel used by residents of Bayelsa was being sourced from the two sites, which were destroyed by troops.

It was further learnt that residents preferred kerosene sourced from the ‘local refineries’ because it was cheaper and lasts longer than the ones sourced from the established distribution channels.

A housewife, Mrs Ebiere James, said that the prices of kerosene had increased astronomically in the past few weeks and this has made the commodity unaffordable to most households.

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According to her, “the scarcity of kerosene has brought untold hardship to us in Bayelsa. Kerosene is now costlier than gas; before now, a 75cl plastic bottle for the ‘Asari’ (illegally refined kerosene) sold for 100 naira; but now, it is 250 naira.

“The 150cl bottle, which was sold for 200 naira, now sells for 500 naira. How then can we cope when the filling stations in Bayelsa do not stock the ‘white’ (legally refined) kerosene”?

She explained that “the last time the NNPC mega station sold kerosene to the public in Yenagoa was in 2016, now the high cost of ‘Asari’ kerosene is making people to consider using gas, but the cost of cylinders and gas stoves is another obstacle.”

A kerosene seller, Mr Sammy Yabririfa, also said that the destruction of the bush refineries in Okaki and Nembe had adversely affected supply of locally-refined products.

Yabririfa said: “These two sites are the major sources of kerosene and diesel in Bayelsa, because they supply us in large quantity, even tankers come and load there and you know that regular filling stations cannot stand their competition.

“I tried sourcing the ‘white’ kerosene from a filling station and they told me that a 20-litre jerry can is 7,500 naira, which amounts to 375 naira per litre. So, if I buy at that rate, how much will I sell to customers?”

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