x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Petrol shortage slows traffic at restaurants

Workers at restaurants attached to shuttered Sharjah petrol stations say their future seems uncertain.

Dunkin' Donuts remains open in Sharjah but the Enoc stations are closed.
Dunkin' Donuts remains open in Sharjah but the Enoc stations are closed.

SHARJAH // Fast-food outlets at shuttered Eppco and Enoc stations have put up signs at entrances indicating they are open for business, but said that traffic has definitely decreased.

More than a week after the Sharjah Executive Council ordered the petrol stations closed, workers at popular international chains such as Dunkin' Donuts, Burger King and Baskin-Robbins said the future seems uncertain.

"We have put out three posters to let people know we are open," said a manager at a Burger King outlet on Al Ittihad Road, who asked not to be named. "Customers do not know if we are open or not. So, we thought it would be good to let them know."

Despite the ad hoc signs plastered on blockades, which have been moved to allow one car at a time to pass through the stations, business remains slow.

"The number of orders has dropped to an average of about 70 to 100 a day. Previously, we used to get more than 200 or even 300 orders each day," said the Burger King official, adding that managers were keeping a close watch on the sales. "If orders drop to less than 50 a day, it's a problem. We are quite anxious about the situation."

"We don't know if we will be shut down," said an attendant at a Dunkin' Donuts. "We are really worried if we would be transferred to other shops or asked to leave. We hope the petrol stations restart fuel supply."

There are 15 Dunkin' Donuts outlets, including two independent stores, inside Eppco and Enoc stations in the emirate. Of these, only the two independent outlets remain open. Aqua and Starmart, Enoc's convenience store chains, have also been closed.

McDonald's and Subway, however, have continued operations.

"Our orders haven't dropped," said an attendant at a McDonald's outlet near Emirates Road, which receives about 1,000 orders a day, including takeaways and walk-ins.

"Customers know we are open. But we are worried about what will happen to us."

In a statement, McDonald's Corp said: "To date, McDonald's UAE has not closed any of its restaurants that are located in petrol stations. Our operations are continuing as normal, and we have not noticed an effect on our sales."

Neither Dunkin' Donuts nor Subway officials were available for comment.

The Executive Council ordered that 41 Eppco and Enoc stations to be shut down after they had failed to provide fuel to motorists for more than a month. Authorities put up barricades at the entrances to all the stations to prevent cars from entering.

The stations had failed to meet a 72-hour deadline, issued on June 21, to resume fuel supply.

That came weeks after a similar 48-hour ultimatum for the company to provide answers and a solution to the fuel shortage.

The company has declined to comment publicly for weeks. At the outset of the shortage, an Enoc and Eppco spokesman said the problems were caused by technical upgrades. There have been no signs of any such work in Sharjah.

Abu Dhabi-owned Adnoc stepped in after Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, ordered it to take action. Adnoc has increased its supply by up to 40 per cent in its 59 stations in Sharjah and the other four Northern Emirates, in an attempt to alleviate motorists' woes.

pkannan@thenational.ae