Petroleum sector suffering from extended curfew hours, says JGRA


Petroleum sector suffering from extended curfew hours, says JGRA

Observer staff reporter

Thursday, February 18, 2021

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — President of the Jamaica Gasolene Retailers Association (JGRA) Dianne Parram is questioning Government's strategy of lengthening nightly curfews as a means to tackle the sharp rise in coronavirus cases.

Enforcement of social distancing and other such protocols aimed at reducing the spread of the virus would be more practical, Parram told the Jamaica Observer in a telephone interview. The extended curfew hours, she argued, is hurting the petroleum trade.

“Our members are suffering, especially in light of the curfew being at 8 o' clock; what it does is really reduce your income-generating hours,” she said.

Regarding the extended curfew hours, Parram said that gas station operators who previously offered 24-hour service have been hit hardest and that employees have been feeling the pinch.

“It affects our members and our employees because in turn their hours are cut and as a part of the business sector, we are wondering if this [extending curfew hours] is the best measure,” she said.

“We strongly believe that enforcement is what is required. What cutting the hours does from our standpoint is, people will do the same things that they have to do in a shorter time, so what it does is to [have] more people in concentrated areas throughout the period of just before curfew, which can increase spread [of the virus] as well,” she added.

Parram also repeated complaints about illegal mobile 'gas stations' said to be operating in sections of the country, including the parishes of St Ann and Westmoreland, which she described as potentially hazardous to the public and unfair to legal gas retailers.

“We are aware of illegal gas stations operating and invariably if something [an accident] happens, then it impacts badly on the industry and it is something that we really need to examine carefully. The process that we have to go through [to get authorisation] to operate a gas station [are strict],” said Parram. “Then we hear that somebody just pulls up in a truck and stops somewhere and sells gasolene. This is a risk and really a safety hazard and we just want to put it out there, essentially to say that steps need to be taken to contain it,” she added.

She stressed the need for the authorities to bring an end to the illegal petrol retail trade.

“We have gotten information that they [illegal operators] traverse St Ann and Westmoreland frequently…We understand that there are pumps on the truck, but it is so risky; that is all we are saying. It is a safety hazard. There are so many regulatory things that we have to do and for a mobile gas station, we just find it very difficult to accept,” she said.

“We had discussed it in the meeting with the ministry…. It is something that they are looking into,” she added.

She said people were using loopholes to operate the mobile gas stations.

“We understand that there is something that's called a peddler's licence, but it was for kerosene back in the day… for that licence you just go the court, apply for it, and that is what people are using... but based on the volatility of the product, it is not supposed to happen,” she said.

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