Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Mad rush for fuel in East Coast towns


Rumours about petrol station operators staging a strike also caused panic-buying among the motorists in Tawau, Lahad Datu and here yesterday. The long queue at every petrol station here started at 4pm and caused massive traffic congestion during the peak hours. Operators have since denied the rumours and attributed the panic- buying among motorists to a circular that was extended to petroleum dealers in the country. The circular advised dealers to refuse acceptance of all credit cards with immediate effect from June 19 this year for the purchase of fuel until a satisfactory arrangement on sharing of costs is agreed with the relevant parties. A copy of the circular that was extended by an operator here to the media stated that the Petroleum Dealers Association of Malaysia (PDAM) had raised the matter with the Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs and it was mutually agreed that card acceptance as a form of payment was a business decision. Dealers have the right to accept or reject these cards as a form of payment. As a result of the recent increase in the prices of fuel, the transaction costs for acceptance of credit cards have risen considerably. For example, the -average of one cent charge imposed by cards issuing banks and fleet cards issued by oil companies has risen correspondingly by almost 50 per cent. The Association claimed that every litre sold by credit cards is a cost to the dealers. There was also a similar mad rush for fuel in Tawau. The panic buying caused a major traffic jam as it happened just before peak hours when people finished work for the day. A petrol kiosk operator, Tan, said the station had sufficient supply of petrol and diesel so there was no need for the motorists to panic. “The situation was so chaotic that I had to instruct my staff to control the traffic flow,” he said. Meanwhile, motorist Siti Aishah said she did not know what were the exact rumours. She rushed to the petrol station because her friend told her to do so. “I was lucky to be one of the early ones at the petrol station and spent only 20 minutes there unlike those who came later and had to queue for hours,” she said.