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Friday September 21, 2012

Diesel all gone in Long Lama; Marudi’s stock quickly running out

MIRI: A critical diesel shortage for the past 10 days is threatening to turn into a socioeconomic crisis for more than 20,000 people living in the 200km stretch between Marudi and Long Lama.

The Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism yesterday called The Star, saying it had called Petronas to take care of the problem as soon as possible because diesel had dried up in Long Lama and is about to finish in Marudi.

The ministry’s chief for northern Sarawak, Zakaria Awang, said they notified their headquarters in Putrajaya about the matter because it was at near-crisis stage.

“In Long Lama, there is no more diesel. The supply dried up 10 days ago because of some problems between Petronas and the contractors handling the transportation.

“I have called Petronas in Miri and also its state headquarters in Kuching about the matter.

“However, the situation has not improved. Today, I found that the diesel in Long Lama has totally dried up and Marudi is about to end up with the same crisis.

“There are thousands of families dependent on diesel for their generator sets. There are also many schools, rural clinics and some government departments that depend on the fuel.

“There are also many people using vehicles, longboats, speedboats and express boats using diesel. I have asked for urgent intervention from my ministry headquarters in Putrajaya to help solve the problem.

“The politicians in Baram have also expressed deep concern about the situation.

“Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau has called me repeatedly and said the people need diesel immediately,” he said.

Zakaria said that in Long Lama, there is only one diesel retailer and Marudi has two.

In Marudi, one of them has also run out of stock and the other is not far behind, he stressed.

Asked about the exact cause of the transportation woes, Zakaria said he had called the transporters and they told him that it was about “some transportation charges they were unhappy about”.

“I also called some senior Petronas officials in Miri and Kuching and asked them what the problem was, but they refused to give details. They just said they were looking into the problem,” he said.

As for petrol, Zakaria said the latest information he received was that the remaining stock for Marudi and Long Lama would last for three more days.

“This morning, I called the transporters again and told them that they must resolve whatever problems they have with Petronas immediately because in a few days time, there will be absolutely no petrol or diesel left for Marudi and Long Lama,” he said.

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