All locations of the United Independent Petroleum Marketing Co Ltd (Unipet) in San Fernando and environs remained closed on the weekend following a decision by state-owned Paria Fuel Trading to stop supplies due to an outstanding bill of over $100 million.
Newsday visited several Unipet stations in and around the southern city and saw Unipet stations closed. However, the lines at National Petroleum (NP) gas stations were long and moved at a snail's pace as drivers waited patiently to fill up before the start of the new week.
At most NP stations, the long lines extended to the road. An NP manager on site in Vistabella, revealed that her workers were coping well with the longer lines and heightened customer influx.
“We brought in more workers at this location this week and it’s been good so far,” she said. “It’s a bit sad that drivers have to go through this, especially at such a busy time of the year. But we are handling it well so far and fuel is coming to us upon request. There have been no major hiccups so far and we’re hoping it remains that way.”
Driver Vishnu Mangal, positioned at fifth in the waiting in line for diesel, was a bit flustered with the long wait but admitted there was no other option. “What I could do? I have to wait,” he said following a deep sigh.
“It is a big inconvenience for all motorists right now but sadly, in this country right now, citizens just have to cut their lives to suit what happening around them. It’s a bit unfair to us but we are not in charge of what happens behind them businessmen closed doors.”
Along St James Street in San Fernando, traffic was backed up, car parks were rammed as hundreds flooded the main hub for some early seasonal shopping. All attempts to reach Unipet’s chief executive officer, Dexter Riley, for a comment on the way forward, proved futile.