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Mar 20, 2015

Bus Drivers in the North Head to the Border for Diesel

Going into the weekend, a shortage of diesel and premium fuel is having serious effects on the transportation industry so much so that public transportation is heading across the border to purchase diesel. Tonight only gas stations in Belize City have a limited supply of diesel; elsewhere in the country it is not available. While the sole importer, PUMA is bringing in the fuel by land, it is not enough to suffice the demand which has grown by thirty percent this month. A tanker from Venezuela is not expected to arrive in country until next Tuesday. In the meantime, the rationing continues. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The scarcity of fuel, particularly diesel and premium, is most felt in the transportation industry where the regulation of available petrol has seen bus owners having to adjust accordingly to the present shortage.  Daily runs from as far north as Corozal have been restricted to no more than a hundred and fifty dollars in fuel.  While the limit, in some ways, ensures that there are few gallons left for other consumers, it has forced several bus lines in the north to cross the border into Chetumal to purchase fuel.  News Five visited the Pound Yard today where we were told that the current ceiling is only enough for a return trip to Corozal.  At the end of the run, buses are driven to Chetumal where they are refueled at a slightly higher cost, notwithstanding fumigation and other expenses incurred at the border.  It’s an inflated undertaking, in spite of the need to transport commuters to and from the municipalities.

This afternoon, a queue of tankers arrived from neighboring Guatemala overland to discharge fuel at the Puma Energy depot on Caesar Ridge Road.  The alternate measure, presumably costly, has, to some, extent assuaged the situation.  However, it is clearly not enough to satisfy the overwhelming thirst for diesel.  The problem, according to industry insiders, is acute since the need for fuel has risen steeply, by as much as thirty percent this month alone.  While the spike is being attributed to increased productivity within the sugar industry, reserves in Orange Walk and Corozal, as with other parts of the country, have all but dried up.

 

Back in the city, tour operators, including Yhony Rosado’s Cavetubing.com, are taking advantage of business relationships with various service stations.  Despite also being limited to a hundred and fifty dollars per bus, Rosado’s fleet has been fueled; a potential crisis somewhat averted within the fickle tourism industry.  Elsewhere, including Port of Belize Limited, where a majority of the operations are fuel-intensive, reserves are being withdrawn.  According to CEO Arturo Vasquez, there is a week and a half’s worth of diesel presently in storage at the facility.  PBL has also secured a tanker to transport fuel from the adjacent depot when necessary.

Other critical functions, including sanitation and garbage collection, which rely heavily on fuel consumption are largely unaffected.  Companies such as Belize Waste Control that purchase diesel from Sol are also using up their reserves until the paucity comes to an end.  That, we are told, will be sometime early next week since the shipment from Venezuela is late in arriving.  The tanker carrying fuel from PDVSA was only just filled on Thursday night, well over a week after its arrival date to Belize.

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