At least 150 service stations without fuel

2011-07-14 08:53

At least 150 service stations in Gauteng and 50 in KwaZulu-Natal are without fuel, the Fuel Retailers’ Association said today.

“These were the figures by the close of business yesterday (Wednesday),” said chief executive Reggie Sibiya.

“But these are just reported figures. Some service stations are not reporting anything for fear of intimidation, so it could probably be that between 200 to 250 service stations are without fuel in Gauteng.”

Sibiya believed refineries had underplayed figures.

He said the countrywide strike had crippled the economy and was “bleeding” businesses.

“Fuel retailers, for example, operate on a regulated margin. We cannot change the pump prices and we cannot recover the costs.”

Talks are ongoing with no progress being made, he said.

“We are helpless. We don’t see any progress at all and we don’t know when this strike will end.

“It is almost the end of the week, and we are without results.”

Automobile Association spokesman Gary Ronald said the fuel shortages were more widespread than initially anticipated.

“It has spread faster than in previous years. I think what has happened now is that the contingency plans by the refineries have not worked as well as they thought they would.”

He said that this year motorists were listening to the warnings ahead of the strike and had rushed to top up their tanks for the weeks ahead.

“If a lot of people did that, the demand of fuel would have increased and supply decreased, and now there is not enough supply available for everybody. This accelerated the shortages.

“But some stations had refuelled overnight.”

Ronald said Engen Refinery was the only company being upfront about its shortages, while other companies downplayed them.

The Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood, and Allied Workers’ Union (Ceppwawu) said the strike was ongoing.

“It will go into next week because no talks are taking place,” said co-ordinator John Appolis. He said employers in the petroleum sector were more difficult than the other sectors.

“They are not responding and not proposing anything.

“It’s because the fuel employers are the big multinational companies. They dominate the industries and economies and are expanded throughout the world. All we are asking is for R6 000 a month. That’s not a lot.”

He claimed that Sasol’s executive director had earned R19.7 million last year and that it would take a minimum wage worker 409 years to earn that.

Sasol spokeswoman Nothemba Noruwana was not immediately available for comment.

Engen spokeswoman Tania Landsberg said she would get updates on the fuel shortages across the country at 11am.

The 70 000 fuel workers from Ceppwawu, the Allied Workers’ Union and the General Industries Workers’ Union of SA downed tools on Monday, demanding a minimum salary of R6 000 a month and a 40-hour working week.

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