x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Petrol stations struggle to meet demand

Adnoc customers complain that congestion at petrol stations can leave them waiting up to 30 minutes to fill up.

A busy Adnoc petrol station in Abu Dhabi this week. Pawel Dwulit  /The National
A busy Adnoc petrol station in Abu Dhabi this week. Pawel Dwulit /The National

ABU DHABI // Adnoc customers are complaining that lengthy queues at petrol stations in the emirate can leave them waiting up to 30 minutes to fill up.

Mohemmad Khatib, a 19-year-old resident of Abu Dhabi, said recently it took him almost an hour to wash his car and fill it with petrol at the station near Spinneys in Khalidiya.

"Months pass without washing my car for this reason," he said. "But after people started to write 'clean me' on my car, I decided it was time.

"I waited 45 minutes to wash my car, and another 20 minutes to fill it with petrol."

With 743,000 registered vehicles in Abu Dhabi and only 170 Adnoc stations distributed among Abu Dhabi city, Al Ain, the Western Region and northern emirates, both residents and Abu Dhabi visitors say the number of stations is failing to keep pace with demand.

The Adnoc stations along Airport and Muroor roads spell out the story of frustrated residents and visitors.

At 11am on a weekday at the Adnoc station on Airport Road, between Al Falah and Delma streets, at least 12 cars were lined up at one of the islands. The tailback leading to the main road caused a minor traffic jam.

There is only one functional petrol station along a 20-kilometre stretch along Airport Road leading to Maqta Bridge. However, another station at the corner of Airport Road and Al Falah is under construction and is nearing completion.

In the reverse direction leading from the Maqta Bridge into the city, there are three stations - two near the Carrefour bridge, and another between Delma and Al Falah streets.

Francisco Alneeda, the shift supervisor at the Adnoc station near the Al Muroor and 23rd Street intersection, said minor accidents occur "almost every day. Most of the time it's small and people don't call the police."

With 12 stalls and a staff of seven attendants per eight-hour shift, workers must cope with daily pressures, Mr Alneeda said.

"We receive many complaints about the attitude of our staff, that they're taking time to attend to the customers. But there are just too many cars and everyone is always in a hurry."

Drivers who commute to Dubai from Airport Road say the location of the petrol stations is inconvenient because U-turns are far apart. Drivers must use the petrol stations along the Abu Dhabi-Dubai motorway, which they say are far worse.

Marife Pascnal, a Dubai resident from the Philippines, often commutes to Abu Dhabi. And when heading back home, Ms Pascnal said she always makes sure she has a full tank before getting on the motorway.

"I tried filling up my car once at the station near Al Shahama and it was a 30-minute wait," she said. "They're always congested, no matter what time you go."

Others who are not prepared have had worse experiences.

Nour Ahmad, a marketing executive from Egypt, once ran out of fuel on the E-11 motorway, Abu Dhabi bound, after stopping at three stations and finding them overcrowded.

"I decided I still have just enough until I reach the Dubai border," she said. But she was mistaken, and ended up stranded in the fast lane.

"On my way I ran out and I had to call my friends, who filled up a gallon [container] with petrol and brought it to my car. Luckily, there were no nearby vehicles and the police helped me move my car to the side of the road."

Ms Ahmad said she recognised her mistake, but at the same time, additional stations would prevent drivers from facing such a situation.

One of the busier stations in Abu Dhabi is next to the Spinneys supermarket in Khalidiya. Krishna Subedi, the station supervisor, said he received more than 1,000 customers a day, with average daily revenues between Dh250,000 and Dh300,000. Of the four stations where he has worked, this was by far the busiest, he said.

"At least once a month there is a small accident because drivers are trying to manoeuvre through the congestion," he said, adding that a 24-hour McDonald's at the station did not help the situation.

Mr Subedi said there were 65 stations in Abu Dhabi city, with plans to add 15 more. Adnoc's corporate offices declined to comment.

However, Mr Subedi said: "More stations would definitely help both our staff and the drivers."

mismail@thenational.ae