17 February 2012

Not the best advert for a nation during its busiest tourism period! Don’t add to the mayhem!

Taxi-drivers, passengers, hospital under stress as diesel runs out.
The fuel shortage caused by panic buying ahead of a threatened strike tomorrow by Petrotrin workers is beginning to hurt taxi-drivers, commuters and businesses that require transportation for delivery of goods and services.

Taxi-drivers yesterday complained of having difficulty sourcing fuel for their vehicles as long lines continued to be seen at many gas stations in south and central Trinidad.

Ambulances at the San Fernando General Hospital were also running low on fuel yesterday along with diesel-powered vehicles used by the Police Service, Fire Service and Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC).

And truck company officials in Penal and San Fernando said they were now using on-site stock hoarded for emergencies, because no diesel could be found at most service stations between east coast Mayaro and west coast San Fernando.

Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine told the Express by phone last night he was co-ordinating with Transport Minister Devant Maharaj to ensure essential transportation services like the ferry service and water taxi.

He said he recognised the San Fernando General Hospital required diesel fuel for vehicles and equipment and steps were being taken.

“Our focus has to be on essential services,” he said.

Ramnarine said he had people monitoring the gas delivery and supply situation across the country and panic buying was concentrated in central and south Trinidad.

Adrian Acosta, president of the Trinidad and Tobago Taxi Drivers Network, said all taxi-drivers were losing money because of the situation. He said the hunt for fuel was costing time and money.

Acosta, who plys the San Fernando to Chaguanas route, said because of the delay, taxi stands were crowded with commuters, adding to the traffic situation.

“I am hoping that good sense will prevail in this whole thing and they will sit down and discuss this whole situation and make a quick solution. It is going to affect everybody. It is going to affect the travelling public and the supermarkets because of the fact that they cannot get their fuel to run their vehicles. We are hoping that things will work out as soon as possible,” Acosta said.

Krishna Boodram, president of the Siparia/Erin Taxi Drivers Association, said: “We have two gas stations here at Santa Flora and two at Erin and they have gas. The lines are just little long but everybody is getting.

“Whenever they run out within about 15 or 20 minutes the diesel truck comes back and full back up with diesel. It is not that bad where we have to shut down our service.”

At several service stations in Couva, pump attendants were however refusing to fill containers brought by motorists, and by noon, the reservoirs were empty.

The Express was told both the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) and Trinidad and Tobago Red Cross called the manager of the La Carib Service Station, San Fernando, where they have a credit facility, in an attempt to replenish their supplies.

The manager of the service station which also supplies TTPost, police, fire and T&TEC, said there has been no diesel for the past week.

The manager said, “When we call National Petroleum, where we make our orders, they are telling us that they are still having problems at Petrotrin and nothing is coming out of Petrotrin. We got some super (gasoline) yesterday but that was only half of what we usually get so in two to three hours it was finished. This is worse than what it sounds like.”

T&TEC also expressed concerns over the low levels of diesel yesterday and sent in a request to Petrotrin for fuel.

Chairman of the SWRHA, Dr Lackram Bodoe, said yesterday “the management has taken note of the possible strike at Petrotrin and is putting in place all arrangements to ensure that our transport vehicles, especially the ambulances, have fuel available.”


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