NORTHERN EMIRATES // After more than a year of long queues and empty fuel tanks, motorists in Sharjah, Ajman and Umm Al Quwain are facing even more misery with the news that fuel supplies to four more petrol stations are being stopped.
The last of the older independent stations, which operated under the name of Emirates, are now closing. Pumps at two stations on Al Arouba Street in Sharjah, one on Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Street in Ajman and another on King Faisal Road in Umm Al Quwain have run dry.
The Northern Emirates slipped into a fuel crisis 19 months ago after the Enoc group stopped refuelling Eppco and Enoc stations.
In Sharjah, the Consultative Council issued an ultimatum to the company to resume supplies or close down all of its businesses in the emirate.
That ultimatum was not met, and all Eppco and Enoc stations were closed, with some being dismantled and turned into other businesses.
Yesterday's announcement of more closures was another bitter blow to motorists.
A sales attendant at a petrol station on Al Arouba Street said regular deliveries from Emarat had ended, forcing the station's owners to stop selling fuel.
A notice reading "No Stock" hangs on each petrol pump, although the service bay and tyre sales shop continue to operate.
Further along Al Arouba Street, a notice written on Emarat-headed paper and signed by Emarat station administration apologised to customers for the closure. A member of staff said its operating contract with the Dubai-based company had been cancelled.
It was a similar story in Ajman and Umm Al Quwain, where staff confirmed their station's contracts with Emarat were not being renewed.
Emarat was not available for comment.
The latest closures have increased the pressure on the remaining petrol stations in the Northern Emirates. Long queues could be seen at the Emarat station on Al Arouba Street and Adnoc station on Airport Road in Sharjah throughout the week.
"It is a pity no one tells the public anything about these closures, they are always abrupt and simultaneous," said one motorist, who identified himself as Mohammed and turned up at one of the now closed Al Arouba stations.
"I have been to similar stations and they are closed. Why should someone close so many stations at one time? They do not care about telling the public they serve."
There were suggestions that Adnoc would take over the Eppco and Enoc stations, but officials from the Enoc group refuted this.
Last year, in an effort to solve the fuel problem, Adnoc opened three new stations in Sharjah – in Yarmook, Samnan and Maleha Road. The company also announced it was planning a fuel import terminal in Hamriyah port within the next two years to supply its Northern Emirate stations.