DESPITE pleas made last year about low profit margins at the pumps, the owner of one service station in El Socorro says “very low regulated fuel margins,” were affecting the ability of station owners to employ full and competent security systems, “to respond to the increasingly threatening environment.”
This was according to Narendra Maharaj, UNIPET Dealer at the N Maharaj Service Station in El Socorro.
Last week Tuesday one of his employees was assaulted by two men when he told one of them to stop smoking while his friend's vehicle was parked in the station.
Two men have since been detained and are now before the courts.
According to Maharaj in a statement to the Express: “Gas station owners make very low margins so on every one hundred dollars of super gas sold the service station owner makes a gross revenue margin of $3.95 which is required to fund wages, bank charges and security.”
He added that the security cost for an average sized gas station can be an average of $50,000 a month.
“Even small stations handle significant amounts of cash per month and this high cash situation puts added pressure on the need to have security,” he said.
He said that as a result service station owners have to organise cash pickup services from security firms to ensure that these funds are safely deposited while at the same time having to provide security to protect their employees and customers.
He said that added to their bills were the installation of, “expensive bullet proof enclosures and technical cash transit systems to protect ourselves,” as he explained that gas station owners were at risk of being kidnapped or being extorted which requires them to take personal security measures.
Stations are being robbed:
Maharaj described that in the past few months, “we have had many stations being broken into multiple times by determined bandits. The very low revenue margins means that ninety six per cent of the money that the stations are required to secure are funds that are owed to other parties mainly Petrotrin and the Government and if a station is robbed then that owner becomes liable for these huge sums.”
He said that one robbery can put a dealer out of business.
“The recent unfortunate incident at a gas station in El Socorro highlights this challenge as the CSR is asked to enforce good safety procedures and is met with violence by a belligerent customer so security is needed to protect these workers from ill intentioned/irate customers,” said Maharaj.
He added that the reality is that the current margins makes the cost of maintaining adequate security provisions as a necessary financial burden for gas station owners so improved revenue margins are not only required to improve the stock of service stations but to keep up with increasing requirements for more sophisticated security measures.