Fuel queues get longer

2011-07-16 00:00

STRIKING continues and the petrol situation looks grimmer than before. People have resorted to taking empty containers to get fuel from stations that have not yet run dry.

“Cars have been queuing up like you won’t believe,” said Johan van der Merwe from Total’s Autobahn in Hayfields. And people have brought containers with them and cars that look like they haven’t been driven for ages, just to get fuel, he said.

The South African Petroleum Industry Association (SAPIA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) issued a joint statement yesterday, which warned of the illegality and safety hazards of storing petrol in these containers. They asked the public to “trust in the processes put in place” to resolve the shortage.

They said “the number of garages impacted changes continuously, almost on an hourly basis depending on supply and demand”.

An employee from a BP supplied garage in Scottsville said they are “running very low” and would be dry within an hour. An Engen garage on Chief Albert Luthuli Road reported running out of unleaded petrol at about 3.15 pm yesterday.

The strike, which began on Monday, involves members from the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood, and Allied Workers’ Union (Ceppwawu), the General Industries Workers’ Union of SA and the Allied Workers Union. They are demanding a minimum salary of R6 000 a month, a 40-hour working week and a ban on labour brokers.

On Thursday Solidarity said they would join the strike if workers’ demands were not met.

SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) pledged their support if they were called to action.

A meeting was scheduled for today where unions, petrol industry representatives and the Bargaining Council for the Chemical Industry aimed to find a solution to the negotiations stalemate.

However, Ceppwawu have rescheduled the meeting to Monday, as some of the delegates could not attend, said an administrative employee in the regional branch.

Sapia executive director Avhapfani Tshifularo expressed disappointment in Ceppwawu rescheduling the meeting and not trying to resolve the strike sooner, as “the impact of resuming negotiations on July 18 will potentially mean that the strike will be protracted beyond that day, causing further delays on supply of fuel to regions”.

Shell’s communication manager Elton Fortuin said, “The situation in the Durban area remains challenging with at least 20 Shell retail sites stocked-out.” The figure was 15 stations yesterday.

One reader, Derek Robson, posted a message on The Witness Facebook page saying that three petrol stations in Hayfields were without fuel yesterday. He could not find unleaded fuel anywhere and resorted to using lead replacement fuel found at a 24-hour KwikSpar.

Sapia and the DOE urged the public to avoid “unnecessary trips and to conserve fuel”.

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