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Durban - Some petrol stations in KwaZulu-Natal are demanding upfront payment from motorists for fuel.

This follows a recent spate of incidents where many motorists have driven off without paying.

Ravin Ramdial, regional chairman of the KwaZulu-Natal BP Dealer Council, attributes the problem to the rising fuel prices.

“It’s become unbearable. The problem started escalating when the fuel price hit the R10 a litre mark. Since then, it has just got worse,” he said.

Ramdial, who owns a BP service station in Cato Ridge, said the council had discussed the issue at length.

Measures were introduced to try to reduce the number of incidents, he said.

“It is unfortunate, but I have opted to implement the policy of asking for upfront payment before dispensing fuel.

“When a driver produces a R200 note, we even have to check to see if it is counterfeit or not,” he said.

Arthur Pillay, manager at the BP garage in Isipingo, said his garage had been hit every four to six weeks since the beginning of the year.

“It has been bad recently. But, we have tried to counter the problem by making our staff more alert.”

He said the incidents happen late at night or in the early morning.

“We have trained our staff to be watchful. We no longer service cars without number plates,” he said.

Pillay said his staff had been trained to be more attentive to avoid being distracted.

“Drivers sometimes ask for two pints of oil, then speed off while the attendant is fetching it,” he said.

A petrol attendant, who did not want to be named, agreed that most of the incidents happened either in the early hours of the morning or late at night.

He said he had fallen victim twice to motorists getting away without paying.

“It’s happened to me twice. The first time, I had dispensed R600 worth of petrol into the guy’s tank. He gave me his bank card and when I went to get the swiping machine, he sped off. The second time, I dispensed R800 worth of fuel into a car and a similar thing happened,” he said.

The attendant had to pay for the petrol on both occasions.

Pillay said the garage owners and managers usually looked at the circumstances around incidents to determine if the petrol attendant could have prevented them.

“We look at video footage first to see if the attendant was negligent,” he said. - Daily News