BY KAYODE ANIMASAUN
Owners of filling stations in Ondo state are now closing two hours earlier than the normal business hours to avoid further armed robbery attacks after series of attacks in Akure and its environs.
It was observed that for over a week, all filling stations in Akure, the Ondo state capital now close at between 7 O’clock and half past 7 in the evening.
Our correspondent who monitored the situation reports that the development has begun to tell on motorists and other residents that want to buy fuel when going home at night.
Some attendants who spoke with Positive fm hinted that the order came from their boss that henceforth, they must not operate beyond 7pm.
The development had also led to daily rush for fuel by okada riders and motorists who want to get the commodity before the new closing time.
Reacting in an interview, the chairman, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Ore depot, Mr Shina Amoo said the decision was made to stop incessant robbery attacks on members in the state, adding that it was not meant to put hardship on members of the public.
Amoo said “The closure of filling stations at 7pm in Akure is due to issue of incessant robbery and killing of our men, either security or our staff on duty. It has been on for more than two years and we have been managing and enduring and complaining to the authorities and when we could not see any meaningful solution to the problem on ground, that was why we looked at alternative way of addressing the challenges facing our members in the state capital and make them safe.
“We can’t go on self-defense. The only thing we can do is to run away from where we can have issues, either crisis or accident. So closing earlier is the only way we could go to be safe at the moment.We look at robbery occurrences in Akure, we lost count. We have experienced loss of fund,we have experienced injuries on staff and deaths of staff.”
“We are still begging the state government and relevant authority to see how we can move forwards towards addressing insecurity and being safe in the state because we see it as a big threat to our business in the state. Though they are trying their best in making the state peaceful and good for business but it is just like a gorilla war, when you are fighting somebody you don’t know.
“The major issue is that filling stations are numerous and there is no way the government or police would start putting one officer per filling station to secure them.When we discovered that we could reduce our time of operation,we asked members to start closing earlier than normal to help government and our business because it is obvious that the tasks before government on security is herculean” Said Amoo
“The issue is that when those robbing us now know that we are at alert , and nobody is operating till late in the night,it will reduce armed robberies on filling stations.We have discovered that most of the robberies were carried out in the dark or early in the morning. Police have investigated our staff and it was discovered that those armed robbers were coming from outside within akure to attack us. So it is not our staff. So all we have done is to reduce our risk exposure.
The moment we are able to come out with all other ways of addressing this,we will continue to do our regular businesses”
We are not doing this to suffer the public, we are just doing this to help our members who have invested so much in the business,vSo people should be getting their fuel as early as possible on or before 7pm pending the time this will be addressed.
According to Mr Amoo “If those attacking us realise they can not have their ways again, they will find other areas to direct their strength and energy to rather than robbing us.”
“All I can say is that the Federal government should reduce the rate of unemployment. There are people influenced to do bad things but when they are engaged, they won’t have the avenue to join anybody, but when they don’t have other means. You will see a situation where people now beg before they could eat. It is as bad as that. So bad influence coupled with level of unemployment has led many youths to be doing bad things.”