FUEL SHORTAGE: Subsidised diesel believed to be siphoned off and resold as industrial fuel in Sabah
KOTA KINABALU: LACK of enforcement and errant kiosk operators were blamed for the shortage of diesel supply at petrol kiosks in several districts across the state.
In the last few days, there were long lines of motorists queuing from early in the morning or late in the evening when the tankers arrive daily to refill the supply at the stations.
Many stations have even put up notices that they have run out of diesel.
An oil and gas supplier said most tankers sent to refill the stations come with a capacity of about 28,000 litres, and pointed out that each operator would get one or two per day, depending on the location.
“This means that with each tanker, about 1,000 diesel-powered vehicles can each fill up with RM50 worth of fuel.
“In plain view we can see one tanker arriving to refill the stations daily, whether it is operated by Petronas, Shell or Esso.
“Along Jalan Penampang, between Lido and Donggongon town, for instance, there are six kiosks. That shows at least 6,000 vehicles can refuel at RM50 per vehicle. But yet everyday the stations claimed ‘diesel habis’.
“Something is wrong somewhere,” a businessman, who declined to be named, said.
He claimed subsidised diesel meant for motorists was being siphoned through bulk sales at RM1.80 per litre in kiosks and re-sold as industrial fuel, currently at RM2.65 per litre.
He also claimed that vehicles with concealed large fuel tanks, some with a capacity of 3,000 litres, would fill up regularly at petrol stations.
“In Donggongon town, for instance, there are two such vehicles that come regularly — one is blue in colour and the other white.
“Each time the driver fills up, he would use a towel to conceal the meters so as not to make others suspicious. There have been reports of this but so far the authorities have been slow to act.”
Industrial fuel is supplied through depots operated in major districts by Petronas and transported in tankers with a capacity of between 10,000 and 12,000 litres.
State Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry deputy director Suhaimi Mat Sari said they had approved an additional eight million litres of diesel to be supplied to stations across the state until the end of July.
“This to meet the increasing demand this month because of the coming Aidilfitri celebration. We are aware there is an increase in diesel usage, especially from transporters and motorists in preparation for the holidays, so we decided to increase the quota.”
He said they were also aware of station operators siphoning subsidised diesel to be sold as industrial diesel and were monitoring the situation closely.
“In fact, we have identified a few petrol stations and will be acting against their errant owners soon.”
Individual offenders can be fined up to RM100,000 or three years’ jail for illegal possession of controlled items under the Price Control Act 1961, while private limited companies can be fined up to RM250,000.
Tuaran member parliament Datuk Wilfred Madius Tangau said if the allegations were true, the ministry needed to act immediately.
“We cannot allow this situation to continue.”
Stations across the city here will only allow diesel-fuelled vehicles to be filled with RM30 to RM50 worth of diesel per vehicle in order to ration their supply.