HCMC support team aids motorcyclists stuck without gas

By Minh Tam   October 11, 2022 | 12:18 am PT
Vu Tien Thang and members of his SOS 115 team have spent the past two days helping motorcyclists who had run out of gas.

"We have assisted more than 20 incidents of vehicles running out of petrol on the road after two days," Thang, a 28-year-old delivery worker for a company in District 12, said.

121 gas stations in HCMC, or 20% of the city's fuel retailers, in HCMC had run out of either gasoline or diesel as of Monday. Some suppliers said importing has become difficult, while others said the recent Storm Noru has affected transportation. Retailers say the falling government-fixed retail prices force them to sell at a loss.

The public is unhappy about having to go around to find one with stocks, as they may run out of petrol in the middle of the road. The problem is even worse when vehicles run out of gas late at night.

When Thang and members of the SOS 115 group saw this situation, they split into two teams: one inspecting petrol stations that were still operational, and the other, searching for people in need of rescue.

The group has been working at full capacity for two days now. They only sleep about two to three hours a night.

Vu Tien Thang

Vu Tien Thang, a member of roadside assistance group SOS 115, on Oct. 10, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Minh Tam

Thang reported that two days prior, while sitting at a coffee shop, he encountered a man named An walking his motorcycle. When inquiring about it, he discovered that An had driven from outlying Cu Chi District and had ran out of gas. He offered to assist the man in getting home to southern Binh Duong Province even though it was midnight.

Though he was exhausted that day, he received a thank you and a pat on the back from a strange man, making Thang feel happy and warm.

On Monday night, it rained heavily across HCMC, with some roads flooded and several vehicles stalled.

At the time, Thang and members of his team were busy rescuing commuters who had run out of gas, quickly helping them locate a place to fix their vehicles.

At 10 p.m., after taking a deaf man home safely, Thang went to Highway 22 where he encountered Trinh Hoang Hung, living in Tan Binh District, pushing his motorbike that had run out of gas.

Hung claimed his wife, Le Thi Dieu, was on her way home from work when she phoned him for help because the road was deserted at night and there was no petrol station in sight.

The couple had to push the bike for an hour before they happened to meet Thang's rescue squad.

"In this hard time, having someone to help is very valuable and meaningful. Members of the team have kind and big hearts," Hung said.

Trinh Hoang Hung (blue raincoat) receives support from Thang after his vehicle ran out of gas on the evening of October 10, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Minh Tam

Trinh Hoang Hung (blue raincoat) receives support from Thang after his motorbike ran out of gas on the evening of Oct. 10, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Minh Tam

Thang and his friend said their goodbyes to Hung and his wife at midnight, and then drove around Phan Van Hon Street in District 12 helping others reach nearby gas stations.

Three years ago, Thang and his friends founded the SOS 115 volunteer organization, which now has about twenty members and operates from 7 p.m. to midnight daily.

Thang's team initial focus was on assisting those whose cars had broken down or ran out of gas to safely get home and later provide emergency medical care on the road and help find missing people.

All of the members of the SOS rescue squad use their own money to assist people like Hung and An.

Thang claimed that his worried mother frequently called him on the nights he went to the rescue, and waited for him to return instead.

"I'm sure my family is worried, but I think that many other people would have a hard time getting home safely without my help. So, I have to do something to help."

Fuel shortage causes arguments, frustration at HCMC gas stations on October 11, 2022. Video by Tuan Viet, Vu Thinh

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