ABU DHABI // Motorists rushed to fill up their vehicles last night ahead of a 14 per cent increase in fuel prices. Queues of cars at petrol stations in the capital were backed up onto main roads, while pump attendants worked hard to manage the sudden influx of traffic. For the drivers, it was the last chance to fill up before midnight, when a 20 fils price rise on each litre of petrol sold in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and the Northern Emirates came into effect.
Mohamed Abdel Bali, a 30-year-old father of one from Jordan, who was filling his 4x4 at the Adnoc petrol station in Manaseer, said although it would only cost him about extra Dh100 a month to fill up, it was one more thing he had to account for in his bills. "The price of everything is rising," he said. "I now have to ask myself where I need to minimise costs, and today I came for one last chance to fill my car on cheaper fuel."
Mr Bali is considering changing his car. He said: "I chose a bigger car because I wanted my family to be safer on the roads, but now we are thinking, because of the economic troubles, to get a smaller one. The question I am now asking is 'safe or save?'." Ali Ahmed, 23, an Emirati who works for Adnoc's human resources department, said the price rise would cost him about Dh250 extra per month. "Although it is only Dh15 to Dh20 each time I fill up, it adds up at the end of the month," he said while filling up his 4x4. "I will now have to increase my budget for fuel."
Aries Delosreyas, a Filipino pump attendant at the station, served many more customers than usual. "There are too many people today because the price is going up," he said. "Usually, two of us rest every hour, but today we are all working non-stop. We are too busy." Ruperto Lago, 29, who works at the Adnoc station in Al Bateen, said the number of customers doubled last night. "Usually we see about 30 cars per hour but today there has been 60," he said. "Everyone is afraid of the increase so we are very busy."
The price rise is the second in three months. There was an increase of 15 fils per litre in April. The increases - which total as much as 27 per cent, depending on the grade of petrol - mark the first time that the Government has relaxed price caps since 2005. Lulu Mulla, a 28-year-old Emirati mother of two from Abu Dhabi, said it was "too much to ask". "This is a Gulf country," she said. "The price of fuel should be very low, like it is in Saudi Arabia. We have a lot of oil, especially in Abu Dhabi. I don't agree we should have to pay more."
Not all drivers were aware of the latest increase. Dalia Awad, 25, from Syria, said: "I only fill up once a week and I wondered why it was so busy. I don't think it is a good thing, but what can I do?" As of today, a litre of special-grade petrol costs Dh1.72, compared with an average US price per litre of Dh2.65 (US$0.72). email@example.com