Friday, 20 March 2015

Unleaded Fuel – what is that?

On my last trip to the great Karamoja region, I enjoyed the vast expanses of land and breathtaking scenery of the landscapes along Katakwi, Napak and Moroto. Aside from the dust embedded within each facet of their lifestyle, Moroto town was relatively quiet with the exception of loud Ugandan music played at the small clubs over the weekend.

Today, I am not going to focus on the night scene of Moroto, but a whole other issue that the town is grappling with – fuel scarcity. By scarcity I mean that the town has only two available pumps which sometimes run out of fuel, so when you find it available you had better top up.

We decided to fuel up at the one on the main street of Moroto town since we were informed that fuel scarcity was a common occurrence in this part of Uganda. This station was the worse option of the two near the market area was the better option of the two with the other being very run down, but we only realized this much later.

Before we left Soroti town, we had fueled up but were currently running low after the back and forth journeys we made between Moroto and the Napak district headquarters. As we pulled into the fuel station, we were greeted with silence as we quietly waited for the pump attendant to serve us - however there was none in sight.

After 1 minute of looking around, the wind blew the fuel station office door open and we could see a gentleman seated with a plate of food munching away on something.

 We waited another minute as we tried to make contact with him by waving our hands in the air and calling out to him from our vehicle.

Me: “Sebo, sebo, hello we want to fuel up.”

Nothing worked and it only took the driver jumping out of his seat and moving in his direction to get him out of his seat and he started walking towards us.

Driver: “Sebo do you work here, we want fuel?”

Pump Attendant: “You want fuel?”

Me: “Yes we do!”

Pump Attendant: “Okay,” he responded as he stared at us before another man run out of the office.

The pump attendant’s counterpart pulled him aside as he whispered something in his ear as he watched us intently and a grin accidentally crossed his lips.

Me: “Could you fill the tank?” I yelled in their direction as they had gone a little way off to hold their conversation and yet we were in a hurry.

Pump Attendant: “Fuel is 5,000 Ugx a liter”

Me: “5,000 Ugx, why!” 

Pump Attendant: “You know where you are?”

Me: “What is that supposed to mean?”

Pump Attendant: “This is Moroto?”

Me: “Yes so, not even 4,000 or 4,200 but 5,000?”

After a brief moment of reflection, with the advice of the locals to ensure we fuel up to avoid running out, I decided to heed to their advice and responded.

Me: “Fine fill up the tank.”

Driver: “Sebo put Petrol – unleaded,” he said as he walked back to his side of the car readying himself for takeoff.

Pump Attendant: “huh?”

Now this chap decided to stretch out our fueling experience at his pump so long that given our journey from Soroti and then Napak and back to Moroto, we were exhausted and wanted nothing more than a hot shower and sumptuous meal.

Driver: “Unleaded!” he said as he yelled across from the driver’s side.

Me: “Give us Unleaded sebo, I reiterated since I did not want the pump attendant to feign deafness. After a brief pause coupled with a clueless face he responded,

Pump Attendant: “What is that?”

Bwahahaha! Chuckled the rest of my team travelling who were seated in the back of the van. That was the final straw as the driver responded in frustration.

Driver: “You put what you have we are not going to sleep here.”
After he finished I wanted nothing more than to never see this pump attendant ever again and it is working out pretty well so far.

Me: “Can you give me a receipt?” I said disgusted at how the fuel quantity did not match the number of liters’ I had paid for?”

Pump Attendant: “Huh!”

You all know that conversation went south.

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