THE rising cost of diesel is hitting Dorset’s motorists hard, with the average cost of petrol now 138.32p a litre.

And those whose livelihoods depend on the price at the pumps say they are being forced out of the market as a result of the spiralling costs.

Taxi driver Azzedine Lemhazem, who rents a space at Bournemouth railway station, said some journeys are not worth the expense of petrol.

“Everyone is struggling,” he said.

“At the moment, it is quiet already, and when we have to pay rent and for diesel, what’s left for you? Last week, I had £165 for myself. I’m living day-to-day.”

Mr Lemhazem, who drives to Bournemouth from his home in Salisbury each day, said he starts the day with no money at all.

“Just to get here is expensive,” he said.

“I start the day at minus £20 and I have to work back up. I have never been on the dole, and I must work, but it is very hard.”

Driver Azmeer Toms said: “It is over £100 a week to buy diesel.

“Your living standards are affected. It used to be that if a customer paid £5, you would get £4 towards your wages, but now it’s more like £3. Ten years ago, diesel was 85p a litre, but it has doubled and my wages haven’t really changed.”

He said he was working longer hours to try and make up the short-fall.

“You have the right to pray and hope for better, but it’s not happening,” he said.

Driving instructor Sally Durnan, who runs her own business, said the rising cost of fuel was making life tough.

“It’s putting a strain on everybody’s pockets,” she said.

“It’s eating into the profits you make at the moment. Diesel is up to £1.47 per litre in some places, and it’s having a real impact.”

The AA revealed the cost of diesel has risen 4.78p from its mid-January price to an average of 145.10p.

The cost of petrol too has risen 6.24p a litre since early January – 1p of that in the past five days – adding £3.12 to the cost of refilling a typical 50-litre tank.

Filling up the 70-litre tank of a Ford Mondeo now costs £4.37 more than six weeks ago, while a two-car family’s monthly petrol cost has risen £13.25 with the current price surge.

The AA said this was due to the effect of the pound sliding against other big currencies, adding that market speculation could push prices to record levels by Easter.

147.9p a litre

The cost for petrol in the Bournemouth and Poole ranged from 137.9p a litre to 147.9 a litre on Tuesday.

ASDA in Canford Heath featured the lowest price of the eight visited by the Daily Echo, while BP in Castle Lane, Bournemouth had the highest.

Most of the other stations were selling petrol for between 138.9p per litre.

From lowest to highest cost per litre of petrol: ASDA in Canford Heath – 137.7p
Esso in Barrack Road, Christchurch – 137.9p
Sainsbury’s in Alder Hills, Poole – 138.9p
Tesco Extra in Tower Park, Poole – 138.9p
Esso in Charminster Road – 138.9p
Murco in Southbourne Grove – 138.9p
Shell in Bournemouth Road, Parkstone – 139.9p
BP in Castle Lane – 147.9p