Thursday, August 2, 2007

Petrol Stations 7-10: Has the Government Lost Control?

Fuel. Fuel is what moves our country's economy. If you have ever travelled on the North-South Highway at night, you will see thousands of cars travelling from KL to Ipoh, Singapore to Malacca, Singapore to KL. These are at least from our observation the main and most frequented routes. This will all soon come to an end. PLUS may see a drop in passenger vehicle movements on their highways at the later hours of the night. Why? Well, unless you are carrying an extra tank of petrol in your car, you won't make it, especially if you are running a small CC car which usually has a 30-40 litre tank. Making those overnight trips from Johor or Malacca to Penang or Ipoh will be a thing of the past.

If you think it stops at passenger cars, think again. Commercial vehicles will be impacted too. How will you now move anything from timber, steel, agro produce cross country overnight? Usually transportation of such goods are done at night until the wee hours of the morning. So, we can expect that in some small way, the economy will be stifled.

Think about it, all your expectations of overnight mail by Poslaju or FedEx or whatever you use will be affected. Hence making Malaysia even more inefficient.

The only benefit that I see coming out of this is that all these Mat Rempits will run out of petrol sometime around midnight after doing all their cartwheels and wheelies or whatever stupid things they do.

This is all thanks to the PDAM (Petrol Dealers Association of Malaysia) that intends to proceed with this new policy without government approval. Has the government lost control?

Now think about what happens when this 10pm closure is enforced. Everyone and their dog will be queueing at the petrol stations to fill up. Creating traffic jams along the main roads these stations are situated on. Not to mention all those commercial vehicles who will do their final fill up. That would make things even worse. Chaos!

Thanks to the PDAM, the economy will suffer, PLUS will lose money and we, the consumers will remain at their mercy. Where is the government in all this? Why haven't they stepped in to say something even after the first statement of intention by the PDAM yesterday? Nowhere!

Are they too engrossed in their Northern Corridor and Iskandar projects to notice and pay attention to all this? Obviously. But, there is a major oversight, the building materials will not transport themselves onto the site just with love and fresh air.

We'd hope to see the government do something about this - and soon.

We don't care if the petrol dealers think that their operating costs are high or that they are afraid of being robbed. There are ways of managing these things. Like the typical Melayu business, they usually have more people than they need to run the station. Usually there are 2 cashiers but only one counter open. The second person is just sitting there doing nothing.

The bigger and more understandable concern is that of security. But really, get with the 21st century - install high grade CCTV cameras that have high resolution and nightvision. Have them placed not only in the convenience store, but also on the outside. I have observed that CCTVs aren't present in many of the vital places and even if they are, the resolution is so bad, you can see nothing. Shouldn't all petrol stations have a panic button alerting the police as well? Most petrol stations don't even have an alarm system.

So, if the petrol dealers can't help themselves, then don't come crying to the media!

As for the police. Yes, the PDRM is useless, they are never around when you need them, and when you call in an emergency, you will probably encounter the following:

1. The officer cannot speak english and takes 1 minute to pass the phone to an officer who can. Usually an Indian person.
2. The officer doesn't seem interested or unphased, no sense of urgency

And then it takes about 30-40 minutes for the police to arrive on the scene, by which time, you would either be injured or dead and definately robbed.

It is now in the hands of IGP Musa, to get all the billions worth of police cars he asked for on the road and patrolling, not being parked outside mamak stalls for hours.

So, what can we as consumers do about this? Nothing you say? Yes, there is something we can do... To hurt the dealers, we cannot attack them all at one time. We need to single out one petroleum company and boycott its stations.

In this case, it should be PETRONAS. Why? Firstly, it's quasi government. The government will definately react to this. Also, the owners are mostly Malay, which the government will be compelled to protect. Additionally, they have the most stations with possibly a large number of unprofitable stations that should and can be closed (rationalised). One third of the 3000 dealers are Petronas dealers.

Boycott PETRONAS for a start and you can work through the rest in time. But it's likely that boycotting PETRONAS will spark the necessary reaction from the government.

Article from the New Straits Times
So, it’s fill up before 10pm

KUALA LUMPUR: All petrol stations, including those on highways, will close by 10pm within two months.

The Petrol Dealers Association of Malaysia (PDAM) said yesterday that its 3,200 members would only open for business between 7am and 10pm.

PDAM spokesperson Datuk Zulkifli Mokti said this was because the association’s members faced security risks as well as declining profits."The average petrol station is robbed once a year. This happens mostly at night."

He said the station owners were operating under constant fear of being robbed as they had large amounts of cash daily."Just two weeks ago, an owner was robbed on his way home. Dealers, too, have been shot and killed, kidnapped and threatened at gunpoint."Zulkifli said that reducing work shifts from three to two would help petrol stations bring down operating costs, which had been rising over the years.

On Monday, former PDAM president Alang Zari Ishak had said that stations along highways would remain open 24 hours a day. Yesterday, Alang was removed as president after 51 out of 65 council members voted against him at a meeting.

In announcing his removal, Zulkifli said many decisions made by the council had not been properly enforced."Certain decisions were not followed up (by Alang).

"Major (R) Wahid Bidin, who was formerly the deputy president, will act as the president until the association holds its election next year.

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