x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Petrol rationing hits small businesses

Fleet operators say they are being told they can only buy small amounts of petrol each trip to the pump.

DUBAI // Petrol rationing is disrupting small businesses in Dubai and Sharjah, some of whom have been forced to scale back work and delay deliveries over the past three days.

The businesses say stations in Sharjah are refusing to sell them more than Dh40 petrol per vehicle, forcing vans and pick-up trucks to refuel repeatedly during the day. Meanwhile, drivers in Dubai say they need to fill up early if they are to ensure a full tank.

"It's a huge waste of time," said Shabbir Rokadia, a businessman who owns hardware stores in Sharjah and Dubai. "My drivers wait for more than 30 minutes in long queues, and then, because of rationing, they are not given more than Dh30-Dh40 of fuel. This will last only about two hours, then back again they go in another queue."

This has affected his firm's ability to carry out its average of 25 deliveries per day of hardware to companies from Abu Dhabi to Ras al Khaimah. "We have reduced our work because of this," said Mr Rokadia. "It is troublesome to keep queuing up every time."

The Dubai-based businessman Safakat Lokhandwala said his staff had begun identifying pumps that would supply full tanks.

"We require a full tank of petrol or we cannot complete the day's deliveries," said Mr Lokhandwala, who supplies materials to building contractors and engineering companies. "The drivers can't keep stopping to search and fill. It's a waste of one hour to wait in line if you don't get a full tank. They have found two to three pumps in Rashidiya and Garhoud that fill up the tank, so they get there in the morning."

Both businessmen had encountered rationing at Enoc and Eppco petrol stations.

Meanwhile, taxi drivers in Dubai said that they were being told to fill up during the day at Emarat stations.

"In the evening we don't get a full tank, we are not given a reason - they just tell us to come the next morning," said Irfan Ahmed, a taxi driver with National Taxi, which allows its vehicles to refuel only at Emarat.

"It's additional tension for us. How long will this last?"