By Fahad Al Ghadani — MUSCAT: April 8 – In contrast to the rising number of fuel stations all over the Sultanate, tyre filling pumps and other public services typically associated with fuel stations are increasingly becoming non-existent. Frustrated motorists have taken to social media to voice their anger over the dilapidated state of public amenities at many fuel stations, and are urging the authorities to take the owners in question to task. Some have called for fuel stations to be subject to regulation given their role as a public service.
“The tyre filling air pump does not work at most fuel stations, and no one seems to care,” lamented Ahmed al Balushi, an entrepreneur based in Muscat. Amenities such as air pumps, modern fire extinguishers, and other services should be commonplace at fuel station, he emphasised. “Unfortunately, after they damaged, they remain in a rundown state with no one bothering to repair them or reporting the damage to the authorities concerned. Even the station owners seem unconcerned,” Al Balushi added.
Likewise, Jasim al Harthi, who makes the daily commute from his town in South Al Batinah Governorate, says many of the fuel stations operating en-route lack basic public amenities. Consequently, many motorists are taking the precaution of keeping emergency repair kits in the boot of their vehicles.
“Nowadays, the fuel station is there to only dispense fuel and nothing else. I keep all the tools including a compact version of the air pump inside my vehicle for any emergencies,” said Al Harthi. “Although some of these tools are quite expensive, many of us motorists consider it wise to have them handy because the fuels stations are not suitably equipped.”
In comments to the Observer, Salim al Sarhani, a native of Sharqiyah South Governorate, called for better regulation of Oman’s fuel station network.
“If an owner gets a license to operate a fuel station, then they should be obligated to provide a certain set of public services which should be listed out at each outlet. Further, by provide a certain standard of services to the motoring public, fuel stations have a better chance of attracting more customers to their outlet,” Al Sarhani pointed out.
According to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, 16 new petrol stations were opened around the Sultanate during the first seven months of 2016, while a total of 14 new licenses were issued during the year.