Petrol stations run by state-backed Qatar Fuel (Woqod) will be fitted with a new type of fuel pump that can fill vehicles regardless of which side their tank is on, the company’s chief executive has reportedly said.
The move aims to address long lines at fuel stations, which are becoming increasingly congested and leading to road backups, particularly in central Doha.
Such fuel pumps are commonplace in some other countries, but station attendants in Qatar can currently only fill cars from pumps that are on the same side as the vehicle’s fuel tank.
As most vehicles in Qatar have the tank on the left side, these pumps often have queues of traffic snaking out the station and into nearby roads, while there are much shorter lines for vehicles with tanks on the right side.
“The new machine would ease the congestion at fuel stations considerably,” Woqod CEO Ibrahim Jaham al-Kuwari told local Arabic newspaper Al Raya, Gulf Times reports.
No timetable was given for when the new style of pumps are to be installed, and no one at Woqod was available immediately available for comment.
Meanwhile, Woqod also plans to fit its stations with a new automatic payment system, the company’s chairman Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani has said.
He did not elaborate on how the system would work, save to say there would be vending machines in place at fuel stations that link the vehicle’s registration number with the owner’s mobile number.
After filling up, the owner will be sent a text message detailing the transaction.
“The new system is a very good opportunity for families to plan their budget for fuel and monitor their spending, especially when some families have many cars. Besides, it would be a great saving for companies and government bodies,” Al-Thani said.
As Qatar’s population continues to rise, and around 8,000 vehicles a month join the roads, increasing demand has been put on local fuel stations.
Coupled with the closure of a number of privately-run stations in recent years for safety concerns, existing pumps are under strain, particularly in the center of town.
Al-Thani said that Woqod has 19 new fuel stations earmarked for construction in the coming years, including seven that will open by the end of next month, and six that are in the tender and design phase.
While the locations of these new stations haven’t been detailed, at least one will be in central Doha, as works are underway to create a new station behind the Radisson Blu hotel in Al Muntazah.
This should come as a welcome relief to motorists in the busy area, who have been without a fuel station since the Al Andalus station, which was nearby on C-Ring Road, closed down more than two years ago after an apparent gas explosion.
Despite talk last year of building a new petrol station there, the site remains closed off and undeveloped.
This summer, members of Qatar’s Central Municipal Council added their voices to the public calls for action to tackle the shortage of fuel pumps as they called for more and better-designed petrol stations.
In a report issued in August, CMC members sitting on the services and public facilities committee urged the government to review the number and location of petrol stations in the country and asked authorities not to demolish existing privately-run fuel stops.
The CMC panel called for a study of the need for petrol stations, based on the surrounding population of an area, and for new ones to be built to meet demand now and in the future as the state’s population continues to grow.
In addition to increasing the overall number of fuel stations, there should also be a review of their design and a bigger minimum footprint for the site on which they are built, members said.
Addressing the issue of often long lines of traffic that lead onto adjacent main roads, Woqod’s chairman said this week that the company is working with the Ministry of Transport to improve the entry and exit points of its fuel stations.
He added that discussions were underway to give trucks designated times for refueling, in an attempt to minimize congestion.
In a five-year-plan announced by the CEO last year, Woqod said it aimed to run 150 fuel stations by 2022.
At the time, there was a goal of opening 40 Woqod stations by the middle of 2015, but there are currently only 24 in operation.