By Omar Bah
The Jah Oil management has announced they have paid D1.2 million to PURA instead of the D920, 000 fine published by the regulatory authority.
Last week, PURA announced it has fined Jah Oil D920, 000 after concluding that the company built two petrol stations without permit from the authority.
The authority also ordered the company to halt the construction of the petrol stations, on Kairaba Avenue and in Wellingara.
Reacting to the fine in a media briefing yesterday, the Jah Oil company manager Momodou Hydara told journalists he could not understand why PURA published D920, 000 on the papers but wrote to them to pay D1.2 million.
“I was confused. This is why I went to PURA with a blank cheque. When I arrived, I asked them to tell me what I should pay. They knocked heads briefly and came back to say I should pay D1.2 million. I signed the cheque on the spot and handed it to them,” he said.
He accused PURA of targeting the petroleum company without any reasonable justification.
Hydara adduced that PURA had initially agreed for them to go ahead with the building of the petrol stations, saying the regulatory authority had only complained against the building of the petrol stations’ canopies.
He said PURA’s claims that the fine is as a result of the fact that the two petrol stations are less than 50 meters away from residential areas as stipulated in the regulations are unjustifiable because majority of petrol stations in the country do not meet that criterion.
Hydara said the petroleum company has since written a protest letter to PURA against the fine.
“This is the last thing we would have expected from PURA towards a company that is Gambian and employing hundreds of Gambians and pumping millions into the country’s economy,” he said.
Hydara said the company had approvals from Physical Planning and NEA to go ahead with the constructions.
Residents around Jah Oil’s Wellingara petrol station, who spoke at the press conference, urged the authorities not to close the petrol station. They said before the coming of the petrol station, girls were raped several times on the road.
“My two sons started smoking when the cinema was here and I have lost control of them but since Jah Oil bought the place, all those things have stopped. At that time, you are not even mad to pass through here in the night,” one Kumba Sowe said.
When contacted for comments, the PURA corporate affairs director Malamin Darboe said he could not comment on the matter but the regulatory authority will conduct a press conference today Friday on the matter.