Gas supply running low amid road repairsBy Vaughn Alviar
Inquirer Northern Luzon
SANCHEZ MIRA, Cagayan—Several gasoline station operators in western Cagayan are complaining of fuel supply shortage following the recent closure of a bridge and roads in Ilocos Norte due to heavy rains and repair work there.
“It is hard to get supplies now,” said Lani Langaman, a gasoline station owner in this town.
She said her station replenishes its fuel stock once a week but she fears that with the unpredictable weather and the state of roads and bridges in nearby Ilocos Norte, a major link to Cagayan Valley, she would not be able to get her supply regularly.
Rufino de la Cruz, a motorist who came from interior Abulug town on Wednesday, said gasoline stations in other towns are closing due to the low supply.
“I just refilled [my van’s] tank two days ago in Ballesteros town and now, gas stations there are closed,” he said.
Interior Abulug, whose town proper is far from the national highway, does not have gasoline stations so motorists have to go to nearby Ballesteros to refill.
The last operating gasoline station in Ballesteros town closed on Wednesday morning because motorists started lining up on Tuesday night and bought all its stock, reports said. Three other stations in the town had closed shop on Tuesday due to lack of supply.
“[Gasoline station employees] said no oil tanker will come here because [some] areas in Pagudpud and Lasam are isolated,” said Noli Viloria, a teacher from Ballesteros.
An oil tanker, however, arrived on Wednesday night and restocked a gasoline station along the Ballesteros highway.
“We live on driving and we cannot run without gasoline,” said Edgar Uganiza, a leader of a group of tricycle drivers and operators in Ballesteros.
Due to the irregular supply, Uganiza said the drivers make sure they use their fuel sparingly. “We only turn on our vehicles when there are passengers so we can save fuel,” he said.
Millet Aggalut, Ballesteros Gas Cooperative manager, said other gasoline station owners may resort to rationing if their fuel stocks run low.
A gasoline station on the Abulug town highway leading to Apayao closed on Tuesday but resumed operations yesterday morning when oil tankers arrived. The station services vehicles bound for Pudtol and Luna towns in Apayao.
Fuel supply shortage has also been reported in Allacapan town.
Faced by a supply problem and a steady demand, Aggalut said: “We did not and will not use this issue to raise our prices … We aim to have a higher income but we also consider the situation and needs of our consumers.”
In Ilocos Norte, officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways said the agency has opened the Buagao Bridge in Bangui town to all types of vehicles on Wednesday to ease the inconvenience that the repair work brought motorists since Tropical Storm “Dindo” pounded the province last week.
Nestor Pasion, district engineer of DPWH in Ilocos Norte, said the agency hired extra men to complete the construction of temporary panels that were used to build the bridge.
“We have opened the bridge as of 3 a.m. Wednesday. But we are limiting vehicle load to a maximum of 20 tons. All vehicles having more than 20 tons of load should use the alternate road,” he said.
Pasion said the Buagao Bridge serves as the main service road for motorists plying the Ilocos Norte-Cagayan Valley route. Overloaded vehicles are diverted to the alternate road that the DPWH built.
“We appeal to motorists passing through the bridge to comply with the load limit. Everyone will suffer again once the bridge weakens and is closed to traffic,” he said.
Pasion said except for the road diversion in Bangui, no other road cuts had delayed public transport to the northern towns of Ilocos Norte and Cagayan. With a report from Cristina Arzadon, Inquirer Northern Luzon