PMB garages running dry

2011-07-15 00:00

FILL up now because petrol is running low throughout Pietermaritzburg, Many filling stations have supplies, but they warn they will not last long.

Earl de Lange said his BP petrol station on Durban Road “will be dry by this weekend without a shadow of a doubt”, if deliveries are not made soon.

De Lange said the outlet has petrol, but he doesn’t know how long it will last.

Owner Wayne Smith said his Hilton BP filling station was “dry” on Wednesday, but has since received fuel and will be fine until Monday.

When the tanker arrived there were “queues right down the road”, Smith said.

The strike by the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood, and Allied Workers’ Union (Ceppwawu), the Allied Workers’ Union, and the General Industries Workers’ Union of South African reached its fourth day yesterday.

The unions are demanding a minimum salary of R6 000 a month, a 40-hour working week and a ban on labour brokers.

Last night the Bargaining Council for the Chemical Industry said employers and unions have indicated a willingness to meet.

Mxolisi Ratsibe, chairperson of the National Petroleum Employers’ Association said, “The bargaining council had been pushing both sides to resume talks and settle the dispute.

“So as we speak I am finalising the logistics, dates, and facilitators, and we will be making an announcement soon.”

SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) spokesperson Reagoikanya Molopyane said they are “not on strike as has been speculated”.

He added they would “mobilise solidarity support if called upon” as they believe Ceppwawu’s demands to be “eminently reasonable”.

The union’s members include petrol tanker drivers.

Solidarity deputy general secretary Dirk Hermann said, “The public should no longer be held hostage by the strike.”

He said his union, which represents workers with “critical skills” in the industry, will join the strike on Monday if no progress is made.

Economist Mike Schlusser said the fuel issue is not a crisis yet, but there will be a breaking point if the strike continues. He said a problem is that country’s public transport cannot fill the gap as an alternative to private transport.

Taxi drivers have not reported running out of petrol yet, but taxis have been forced to drive around for fuel, said Umgungundlovu Regional Taxi Council chairperson Boy Zondi.

He mentioned two stations in Edendale and one in Boshoff Street where taxis could not fill up their tanks.

Bongi Hlophe of Hlophe Motors in Edendale has not had petrol since Monday.

Shell’s communication manager, Elton Fortuin, said “at least 15” of their KwaZulu- Natal stations had run out of one or more grades of fuel.

He said, “Fuel sales have increased markedly across the country and in particular the Durban area.”

ER24 spokesperson Derrick Banks said the shortages have not affected the operations of the emergency service yet and they are making sure their vehicles are filled up.

He said they will outsource petrol supplies if they have to. They have also stationed their vehicles in “strategic places” around the city to avoid problems.

Netcare 911 spokesperson Chris Botha said his organisation has been able to fill its vehicles.

Provincial police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said “everything is still normal” and there have been no reports of police vehicles without fuel.

A Shell station on Durban Road received a delivery last night and has sufficient supplies.

“It was very busy this morning,” manager Corrie Deyzel said. But this usually happens in times of scarcity, he added.

Maney’s Service Station in Greytown Road, supplied by Caltex, is “fine so far” Venlyak Maney said. He placed an order on July 6, but it has still not arrived.

A garage owner on Commercial Road who did not wish to be named said “panic creates the shortage” because people who would usually buy about R100 of petrol are filling their tanks.

Most garages reported good communication with their suppliers about the shortages.

Fuel Retailers’ Association CEO Reggie Sibiya said he would have a statement by 2 pm yesterday. However, his phone was either switched off or just rang without an answer.

The South African Petroleum Industry Association was working on a press release which had not been issued at the time of going to print.

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