Thu, 30 Aug 2001

23,000 fishermen stuck in port due to diesel shortage

CILACAP, Central Java (JP): About 23,000 fishermen in Cilacap regency, Central Java, threatened to stop fishing on Wednesday following a prolonged shortage of diesel fuel, which had forced them to be idle for more than a week.

"We've been frustrated as we've been unable to get diesel fuel at gas stations in the town for the past week," Agus Prayitno, one of the officials of the Cilacap chapter of the Indonesian Fishermen's Association, said on Wednesday.

He said the fishermen had no idea why, as the gas stations had received their quota from state-owned oil and gas company Pertamina.

The Cilacap fishermen, totaling about 23,000, have had to stop their activities and remain idle for five days while waiting for the supply of diesel fuel for their ships to return to normal.

Fishermen's association chairman Atas Munandar said that they were now allowed to buy diesel fuel only at two gas stations belonging to the fishermen's cooperative KUD Minosaroyo.

Pertamina Cilacap usually supplied 40,000 liters of diesel oil to the Minosaroyo gas stations, Munandar said. "The 23,000 fishermen, with 863 traditional fishing boats (jungkung and compreng) and 380 trawlers, need approximately 48,000 liters of diesel fuel per day. But now the supply is only 36,000 liters."

"The result is that many fishermen have been unable to get diesel fuel at the gas stations. They finally went to other gas stations, despite the fact this is against the ruling."

"If fishermen are not allowed to buy diesel fuel from other gas stations, how can they make a living? They have already demonstrated their patience," Munandar said.

The vice chairman of Minosaroyo cooperative, Sudarman, meanwhile acknowledged that the two gas stations in his cooperative were short of stocks of diesel fuel.

"If we ask Pertamina for fuel during a shortage of stock the state-owned oil company usually fulfills our demand directly. But at present Pertamina is not fulfilling our requests and is giving various excuses.

"We asked Pertamina for more supply, but were refused, as that would have been against Pertamina Central Board's regulations," Sudarman told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

Head of the business unit at Pertamina's Cilacap Refinery Unit IV Gugur Martono confirmed that Pertamina could not supply more than the amount set by the company's headquarters in Jakarta.

"We can no longer fulfill the gas stations' requests. We are using a quota system. We have to distribute the commodity fairly to all gas stations. The average supply of 40,000 liters per day for the Cilacap fishermen is adequate."

Reports said that many gas stations in other areas in Central Java had sold excessive quantities of diesel fuel to factories.

According to Atas and Agus, the fishermen had suffered large losses due to the days they had been unable to work.

"We've been idle for one week. Each of the fisherman gets Rp 300,000 in average daily revenue. Just count how much money has gone!"

The disappearance of diesel fuel from Central Java's gas stations has also affected public transportation. The owners have had to cease operations due to the shortage of diesel fuel.

An attendant at the gas station adjacent to the bus terminal said that while the supply was previously 24,000 liters per day, the gas station was currently receiving only 8,000 liters.

"The diesel fuel will be sold out only three hours after its delivery," Munadi, the gas station attendant said, adding that the gas stations in the other towns of Banyumas, Cilacap, Pemalang, Tegal, Brebes and Pekalongan had a similar story to tell. (45/sdt/sur)