Drop in foreign vehicles refueling with diesel near M'sia-Thai border

BUKIT KAYU HITAM: The number of foreign vehicles refueling with diesel at petrol stations near the country's border has significantly decreased since the targeted diesel subsidy was announced on June 10.

A Bernama survey at several petrol stations near the Bukit Kayu Hitam Immigration, Customs, Quarantine, and Security Complex (ICQS) found only a few vehicles with Thai registration plates refueling.

Although this might reduce profits for these petrol stations, several operators and workers expressed relief as it helps curb diesel smuggling and misappropriation.

Mohamad Nekmat Ariffin, 41, who runs a petrol station in Changlun, about eight kilometres from the Bukit Kayu Hitam ICQS, said foreign vehicles at his station have significantly decreased since the price of diesel was increased.

However, he explained that it does not affect his business, as 80 percent of the diesel sales are allocated to logistics companies that are regular customers.

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"Only 20 percent of our diesel quota is sold to private or other commercial vehicles, including foreign vehicles, which are limited to purchasing only 20 litres per transaction.

"But now, there are very few foreign vehicles refueling here. Previously, there were many foreign four-wheel-drive vehicles. Only passenger vehicles like vans still refuel with diesel here," he told Bernama on Friday (June 21).

Mohamad Nekmat, who has been running the 35-year-old petrol station inherited from his late father two years ago, also supports the targeted diesel subsidy, especially in curbing fuel misappropriation.

"Sometimes foreign vehicles or those intending to smuggle diesel will refuel at several stations. We can't track their movements or how many times they refuel. So by increasing the diesel price, we hope diesel smuggling can be deterred," he said.

He also acknowledged a decrease in diesel sales at his station after the price hike, explaining that it was due to logistics companies switching to other petrol stations and some companies delaying their operations while waiting for Fleet Card Diesel to receive the fuel subsidy.

Muhammad Irfan Kamarulan, a 22-year-old worker at a petrol station on the Bukit Kayu Hitam-Jitra Highway, reported that foreign vehicles refueling with diesel since the RM3.35 per litre price took effect on June 10 has dropped by more than 50 percent.

"We sell two types of diesel here, Euro 5 B7 and Euro 5 B10. Previously, we sold about 8,000 litres of B10 diesel daily, but now sales have dropped to between 5,000 and 6,000 litres per day.

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"One reason for this decline is that foreign vehicles are refueling less since the diesel price increase. Local vehicles are also refueling less, possibly because they are applying for the Fleet Card Diesel," he said.

Muhammad Irfan highlighted that he often detected the same vehicles refueling multiple times a day, and suspected them of smuggling.

To curb misappropriation, the management of his petrol station has limited diesel purchases by foreign vehicles to RM30, even though the maximum allowable limit is 20 litres.

"Sometimes, vehicles refuel with diesel up to three times a day. We can't be sure if they are regular users or involved in misappropriation, so we limit diesel purchases to RM30 per refuel for foreign vehicles. If the same vehicle returns, we reduce the purchase limit to RM20.

"The petrol station is only about three kilometres from the border, so we feel it’s unnecessary to sell a lot of diesel to foreign vehicles," he said, supporting the government's targeted diesel subsidy initiative.

Meanwhile, Brian Yuen, 50, the manager of a petrol station in Napoh, about 18km from the border, reported that diesel sales at his station have decreased by around 50 percent following the price increase.

"But it's not a big issue because our station focuses on selling petrol. Previously, we sold about 1,000 to 2,000 litres of diesel daily, but now it has dropped to just a few hundred litres a day.

"Officials from the Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Ministry frequently inspect our station. We always monitor diesel and petrol sales and control sales to foreign vehicles to prevent misappropriation," he added. - Bernama

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