The government is due to announce stricter controls at crossings to clamp down on abuses related to the purchase of fuel from the north, Energy Minister George Papanastasiou said on Monday.

The minister was speaking to CyBC radio ahead of Tuesday’s planned protest by petrol station owners who say they are losing out because of the availability of cheaper fuel in the north.

Papanastasiou said the objections of the petrol stations owners have been noted but made it clear that it is not illegal for Greek Cypriots to fill their tanks in the north.

“However, fuel trading is prohibited and illegal,” he said. Papanastasiou revealed that some not only transport fuel in drums but also have hidden tanks in some of the vehicles they use.

Indeed, only on Friday police confiscated 160 litres of petrol from a driver on the road between the villages of Kato Moni and Meniko.

Papanastasiou later moved to clarify the measures the government planned to take, saying that customs workers will be carrying out stricter checks at crossing points, and that the customs departments at crossing points will be “strengthened”.

Regarding previous comments about “naming and shaming” those who buy fuel in the north, he clarified that this initiative will be aimed at those transporting industrial quantities of fuel from north to south with the intention of reselling it, and not individuals.

“When such cases are found, we will publish their names,” he said, but added that private citizens filling up their own cars in the north are covered by the Green Line Regulation.

Socialist Edek on Monday welcomed the minister’s pledge on stricter controls “which require the maximum degree of rigour”, the party said.

“Fuels from the occupied areas are outside the European Union’s specifications, and the consequences of their use cause effects on many levels, but also a loss of revenue for the state, which could use this revenue for social policies,” Edek added.

Meanwhile with an end to fuel subsidies on June 30, prompting fears of even more motorists going north, petrol station owners will be on the streets of Nicosia on Tuesday.

Tanker drivers from all areas plan to descend on the capital moving towards the Ayios Dhometios crossing. They will then head for the presidential palace.

They either want their customers back, or support measures from the government for loss of business.

The return of the consumption tax with the end of subsidies means a price hike of 8.3 cents for petrol and diesel and 6.2 cents for heating oil.

President of the petrol station owners’ association Savvas Prokopiou said last week that reduced fuel prices should remain due to competition from low prices in the north.

“We have a very serious problem [because of] a huge difference with prices [in the north],” Prokopiou said, noting that the association has called for the government to reduce the difference to eliminate the problem.

He added that prices should be at even lower levels, which is why petrol dealers are in favour of continuing to suspend excise taxes.