Impact of fuel strike likely to hit Monday

2009-04-07 00:00

ALTHOUGH the full impact of a prolonged strike in the road freight industry is only likely to be felt on Monday, local motorists might be inclined to fill up their tanks over the long Easter weekend in anticipation of possible fuel shortages.

The strike, which began yesterday, revolves around a pay dispute between the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) and members of the Road Freight Employers’ Association (RFEA).

A number of Pietermaritzburg filling station owners and managers who spoke to The Witness yesterday said although there is a fair level of uncertainty, they are not extremely concerned about the immediate three to four-day fuel supply outlook.

However, although oil and transport companies have reportedly established contingency measures, incidents of intimidation of non-striking drivers may wreak havoc on the supply of fuel to local filling stations, particularly smaller ones.

Most filling station owners expressed concern for the safety of non-striking drivers.

Newly appointed CEO of the Fuel Retailers’ Association, Reggie Sibiya, echoed this sentiment.

“One factor we must be mindful of is the 2005 experience, where there was intimidation of drivers,” Sibiya told The Witness.

Striking truck drivers stopped non-striking drivers and forced them to abandon their vehicles on the road, blocking traffic in Pietermaritzburg yesterday.

About five trucks were abandoned in the centre of the road at the Ohrtmann Road on-ramp, causing a traffic back-up on the N3 during the lunch hour.

The Witness heard reports that truck drivers were forced to hand over their keys to the strikers who then walked off with them.

A handful of strikers walked through the city during lunch time and forced local and other working drivers to stop working and join the strike. More trucks were parked on the Echo and Chota Motala road corner causing disturbance in traffic flows on exit roads and at the highway.

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