Filling station to open after delays by govt

2008-09-04 00:00

A new filling station at Athlone that has been standing unused since April this year — attracting the attention of puzzled local residents and passers-by — will open next month.

The franchisee of Montgomery Service Station, Kugan Pather, told The Witness he has waited almost two years for a retail licence from the Department of Minerals and Energy. He received the licence a few weeks ago.

He dismissed allegations that it is a rogue station.

“I applied for a licence in 2006. I understand that this is a fairly new department within the department of Minerals and Energy and there was an overload of conversion applications and new applications.”

Pather believes the department handled about 13 000 applications during his two-year wait.

Asked why he went ahead and built the multi-million-rand service station before obtaining the licence from the DME, Pather said he had secured local and provincial government approval and a permit in terms of an environmental impact assessment (EIA).

But, he added, a “predicament” cropped up.

“If we did not begin building last year, we ran the risk of having the EIA revoked as there is a deadline of 24 months in which to start building. The trouble is that all these processes are not linked properly — they run independently.”

Durban-born Pather, who owns a number of neighbourhood retail centres in KZN, now lives in Pietermaritzburg.

He conceded that the delay has been costly.

Local ward councillor and Msunduzi Exco member Mark Steele told The Witness that in spite of several objections, the matter has been dealt with properly and approved at a local and provincial level.

“As far as I am aware, due process has been followed. It went through council and the province. Everything was dealt with properly at both levels.”

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