AJMAN // The chaos at the petrol pumps in Sharjah has spread to Ajman - and it could last for at least two months in much of the region.
Enoc and Eppco say the problem is down to a technical upgrade on their network which has put pumps at 41 petrol stations in Sharjah out of action for at least a week.
Now stations in Ajman are affected as the upgrade is rolled out gradually across the Northern Emirates and Dubai.
"Obviously you can't do all of the stations at the same time," said Khalid Hadi, the group brand and marketing manager at Enoc and Eppco. "We've decided to do it in different stages.
"The first stage was Sharjah and now we are moving into Ajman, the Northern Emirates and Fujairah. Then we'll return to Dubai.
"However, we don't expect it will take as long in Dubai because the pumps are relatively new." Upgrading the entire network would take around two months, he added.
Together, Eppco and Enoc have 167 petrol stations in Dubai and the Northern Emirates.
The work has also caused petrol shortages at a number of other stations not affected by the upgrades, Mr Hadi said. "The demand has become higher due to the upgrading process in some stations," he said. "Therefore, there is difficulty meeting that demand through the current transportation system."
Work on the pumps in Sharjah has so far taken around a week and Mr Hadi said he expected them to be completed sometime next week. He declined to say how many stations have been affected in Ajman.
Plastic barriers could be seen at the Ajman Nuaimiya, Sawan, al Jurf and New Industrial areas of the emirate. There has also been long queues on Adnoc and Emarat petrol stations especially on al Dhaid Road and Emirates Road in Sharjah.
"I've been here for 15 minutes waiting to refuel my car," said Ahmed Zahir, a Pakistani motorist at Al Dhaid Road Adnoc station. "I cannot take the risk to drive on as I know many stations now have no petrol."
Mohammed Saeed, an Emirati motorist in Ajman, said that having pumps out of action in neighbouring emirates was causing many motorists to run out of fuel on the road between the two cities.
"In the past three days I've seen two cars stuck on the road with drivers waving for taxis to take them to a nearest petrol station," he said. "Once these scenes become so common in our country petrol retailers will have to explain why they tarnish the name of our rich country."