Fuel station owners split on new hours

2008-07-17 00:00

Local filling station owners appear to be divided on whether to support a proposal that they close shop at night as issues around the potential loss of sales and employment come to the fore.

The proposal was mooted this week by Fuel Retailers’ Association CEO Peter Morgan, who argued that it has become too expensive and dangerous for filling stations to remain open late into the night and during the early hours of the morning.

A number of owners who spoke to The Witness said they would do so only if they were forced to close shop at night by the government.

Veniyak Maney of Maney’s Service Station said the exact opening and closing times will no doubt become a contentious issue as many filling stations gain significant revenue from minibus taxi drivers, who fill up late in the evening.

“Minibus taxis are still operating late into the evening. Filling station owners will lose this clientele and minibus taxi owners will lose the service.

“Convenience for the customer is very important. We will comply if it is legislated. If it is an informal arrangement among other local owners, it will not really work,” he said.

Others, however, noted that it is a good idea to close shop at night.

The owner of Hlope Motors, Bongi Hlope, said it would make perfect sense for him to close up shop at 10 pm and open again at 6 am.

“The business we do between 10 pm and 6 am is negligible. It is risky [as] most card fraud happens at night. Also, it would save on labour costs, as I would then have two shifts instead of three shifts,” said Hlope.

Jenny Duckham of Pat Duckham Motors said they have been considering closing shop at night, adding they now plan to do so within two months.

“We’re going to close at 10 pm and open at 5 am. Most incidents of theft happen at night.”

She also said staff members are less productive at night and during the early hours of the morning.

The owner of VIP Service Station, Parbhu Matharparsadh, who employs 28 people, is not supportive of the proposal.

He expressed concern over the potential job losses and the loss of income among filling station attendants should the proposal come into effect.

kavith@witness.co.za

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