The National, Friday, June 3rd 2011
By PATRICK TALU
THE ban on heavy vehicles using the Poreporena Freeway led to a major fuel shortage in the National Capital District yesterday.
Streets around service stations were jam-packed with vehicles, causing major traffic snarls around the capital city that turned rush-hour into a crawl.
The rush to fill up came about after major supplier InterOil said trucks contracted to distribute fuel from its Napanapa oil refinery would not use alternative routes into Port Moresby.
InterOil retail marketing manager Jimmy Son said last night its contractor, East West Transport, refused to use the alternative routes proposed by the police.
Son said its retail distributors around town, Koki and Ela Beach were not affected by the supply shortage.
East West Transport was contacted to comment but referred inquiries to Steamships Trading Company, adding that they do not talk to the media.
Attempts to check with Steamships were unsuccessful as no one was answering the phones.
However, operators of two service stations confirmed the shortage.
Their tanks were empty and their pumps locked, forcing frustrated drivers to join the gridlocked traffic.
Security guards at the stations said they had run out of supplies at 3pm.
Other fuel station like Lahara, Gordon and Hohola faced similar situation.
The worst traffic bottleneck was at the 5-Mile service station.
Vehicles queued from the 5-Mile roundabout towards Boroko and down Boroko Drive.
At the 4-Mile roundabout, vehicles were moving at snail’s pace.
Some commuters outside of Port Moresby like Tubusereia, Gaire and other places had long waits, with no guarantee they would get to fill up.
Others brought jerry cans and plastic drums to get extra supplies and added to the frustrating first come first served fight for fuel.
Attendants were overheard telling customers, “em laspla fuel nau. Em pinis, em pinis,” (this is last lot of fuel. When it runs out, this is it).
The ban also hit other major wholesalers and retailers in Port Moresby.
TST logistics manager Babu Muthaya said the freeway ban made it difficult for them to transport empty containers to the wharf.