x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Fuel shortages slow recovery services for stranded motorists

Recovering and towing companies say they have less petrol to offer stranded motorists.

DUBAI // Motorists who run out of petrol are facing longer waits to be rescued - because car recovery companies have their own fuel supply problems.

At least two firms said they had been receiving more calls from motorists in need of fuel over the past few days, but that shortages meant their response times had greatly increased.

"Previously, when motorists used to call us requesting fuel, we would get to them in 10 or 20 minutes, after buying fuel," said Vince Joe, the director of the International Motoring Club. "But now we have to drive for more than an hour just to look for petrol."

Calls to the company, mostly from motorists in Sharjah, had gone from about 160 calls to day to more than 190, he added.

"Breakdown of cars because of lack of fuel used be less than two per cent of our total calls. Now, they comprise at least 20 per cent. A lot of stranded customers are calling us, and since they are our members, we are contractually bound to assist them," he said.

The company has also decreased the amount of fuel it gives stranded customers from 10 litres to two.

Similarly, AAA Roadside Assistance said it had been receiving at least five extra calls a day since the fuel shortages began and was being forced to turn down some requests for help.

The shortage meant the organisation took twice as long to reach stranded motorists and those it did reach were being given one litre of fuel, rather than the usual three.

"We can only supply enough fuel to take them to the closest petrol station," said Paul Joseph, AAA's managing director.

Most calls it received came from Sharjah, Ajman and Dubai.

However, not all recovery services reported increased business. An official from Arabian Automobile Association said demand for their services remained unchanged. "We haven't seen any cars breaking down because of lack of fuel," said the official.

pkannan@thenational.ae