SHARJAH // A day after every Enoc and Eppco petrol station in the emirate was closed, Mustafa Jumah drove around for 30 minutes, looking for a place to put air into his tyre.
"I had no patience to wait in queues for just air and drove to Ajman, where I managed to refill it," Mr Jumah said, after he was not allowed to inflate his tyre at King Faisal Road Eppco station.
On the second day that all Enoc and Eppco stations in Sharjah were barricaded, motorists scrambled to find places to change their car oil, wash their cars and put air in their tyres.
The closures created longer queues at the maintenance and washing bays at competing Adnoc and Emarat stations.
"Saturday is notorious for these congestions as it is a time when motorists get their cars ready for the week, but this time it's too much," said Abdul Aziz Mahir, a motorist who said he waited for about an hour for his oil change at the Adnoc on al Dhaid Road. "For how long are we going to live like this, lining up for fuel, for washing our cars, for changing oil and even putting air in tyres?"
Though some motorists welcomed the government pressure after the stations had refused to sell fuel, some drivers thought the emirate's executive council, which ordered the closures, had gone too far by not first ensuring there were enough facilities to meet demand.
For private washing bays, especially in the industrial areas, the closures were a business opportunity.
"We have so far had about 60 clients from morning, and by evening the number would have almost doubled," said Zulfikar Ahmed,the manager of Baluch Washing Bay in Sharjah Industrial area 13. "I am already thinking of hiring some more workers if this is to be like this every day."
He said that by the same time in the morning on a normal day, his workers would have washed only 50 vehicles.
Eppco and Enoc stations in the Northern Emirates began running dry a month ago, creating long queues at other companies' stations. This week, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, ordered Adnoc to take action. The company has increased its fuel supply by up to 40 per cent in its 59 stations in thenorth.