KOTA KINABALU: Many diesel-powered vehicle owners in Sabah have noticed the occasional difficulty in buying fuel, usually just about a week or so to go before the end of the month.
Driving into petrol stations, they are greeted with signs stating “Pam sedang dibaiki (This pump is under repair) or more appropriately “Kuota diesel sudah habis (Diesel quota has been exhausted.)
The second notice reflects the actual situation as it is acknowledgement that the station concerned has run out of its monthly allocation or quota for diesel.
It used to be if one station faced this situation, the next one would likely still have its supply of diesel.
However, pumps for diesel have been running dry at Sabah petrol stations for nearly a week and scenes of 1km long queues outside premises that had the fuel was common in the city and other towns.
The Kota Kinabalu Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry lamented that the diesel shortage is hitting hard on the transportation, logistics, courier and other business.
Kota Kinabalu City Hall is temporarily suspending waste collection services at housing areas as its 37 garbage trucks were running out of fuel.
City Hall’s Cleanliness and Health director Robert Lipon said they were focusing on commercial areas where more garbage was generated.
The crux of the situation is the quota on the amount of government-subsidised diesel allocated to the various petrol stations on a monthly basis.
The quota was introduced some five years ago to stem the illegal sale of the subsidised diesel to industries, plantations and other commercial groups that were supposed to use the non-subsidised diesel.
The price of subsidised diesel is currently at RM1.80 per litre while non-subsidised fuel or the ones sold at the market RM2.60 to RM2.65 per litre.
‘’Quick money can still be made by buying the subsidised fuel from petrol stations and turning around selling it to industries with a 30 sen or 40 sen mark-up per litre,” said an industry official.
Likas assemblyman Junz Wong revealed a photograph of a pump at a petrol station showing a purchase of 1,902.54 litres of diesel that was pumped into one lorry.
‘’This is just one case we believe the lorry concerned may have been equipped with modified fuel tanks to carry such a large amount of fuel that is likely being passed on to the industrial sector,” he said.
‘’This is only worsening the diesel shortage situation,’’ Wong added.
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