Drivers furious at 'ridiculous' fuel costs

Drivers across Auckland today voiced their contempt for "ridiculous" rising fuel costs.

BP and Z both increased the cost of a litre of 91 octane fuel to a record 227c yesterday - only a week after a 7c rise. The chains also announced a rise in their diesel prices by 3c a litre.

At BP on Halsey St, where a litre of 91 unleaded cost 226.9 cents and a litre of diesel 157.9c today, North Shore Taxis driver Raed Saeed said the rise was "very bad" because cab fares hadn't gone up at the same rate.

"It affects our income. We're not like a private car [user], we can't use it less, we can't just take public transport."

Mobil, on the corner of Karangahape Rd and Ponsonby Rd, was charging customers 224.9c for 91 unleaded and 153.9c for diesel.

Customer Robert Williams, who usually spent around $150 a week on petrol, said the hike was "ridiculous".

"Driving less is not an option," he said.

However Dallas Rata, said he usually spent $50 a week on diesel and hadn't noticed the change because he "doesn't really look at the price".

Small business owner Chris Langdon, who was filling up his diesel 4WD for the first time since last week's price hike said fuel was a "necessary evil".

"I run a business so I'm tied to my car unfortunately."

Matt Mackenzie summed the hike up succinctly by saying simply, "it's hurting people", but conceded he was lucky because his employer paid for mileage.

Gull, which traditionally charges less than the industry heavyweights, was selling regular unleaded petrol for 219.9c and diesel for 151.9c at its Kingsland outlet today.

Customer Jackie Pugh said the constantly rising cost of fuel was "just amazing" and had cut into her weekly budget.

"That's why I bought a smaller car - I used to have one of those huge 4WD things."

Manager Vishal Wadhwan said drivers had been flocking from across the city because of the chain's lower prices but acknowledged customer concern.

"The more prices go up, [the more] people are not happy," he said.

BP Halsey St manager Aziz Barolia agreed: "I know they're complaining but at the end of the day you need petrol for your car."

Last week's rise was in part due to the Government raising its excise tax by 3c a litre to pay for roading projects, notably its seven roads of national significance such as the Waikato Expressway and Puhoi-to-Wellsford motorway extension.

New diesel prices came on top of a 10 per cent rise in road user charges paid separately at outlets such as NZ Post shops.

The Automobile Association slammed yesterday's increase as unjustified.

Petrol watch spokesman Mark Stockdale said the outlook wasn't good for motorists because commodity prices had been rising but the retailers were passing on the increases to their customers "much too soon".

However, changes in the New Zealand dollar - which rose in the last few days - had left room for a possible stabilisation in fuel prices, he said.

- APNZ

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