WHILE motorists are thrilled to hear the fuel price is dropping dramatically in August, getting the precious liquid into their tanks may pose a problem.
This, due to the ongoing strike action by some 20 000 petroleum industry workers nationwide who downed tools on Thursday 28 July. Filling stations across the province have been affected, with some running empty as delivery vehicles are left unmanned.
The Automobile Association (AA), which was commenting on unaudited month-end fuel price data released by the Central Energy Fund (CEF), yesterday said petrol will fall by around one rand per litre, diesel by about 70 cents per lite, and illuminating paraffin by roughly 66 cents.
“The rand has continued its recent march against the U.S. dollar, with an almost uninterrupted two-month streak of gains,” the AA said.
“The rand’s performance has contributed only about 25 cents of the expected fuel price drop in August. The balance has been due to the continued retreat of international petroleum prices in the wake of the United Kingdom’s vote to exit the European Union.”
However, the predicted drop in fuel prices comes amid industrial action in the petroleum sector affecting refineries and depots of petroleum companies.
“Regarding this strike, the South African Petroleum Industries Association indicated fuel was in supply, and that it had contingency plans in place for the strike,” the AA said. Weekend Witness spoke to filling stations around the province, some of which reported full reserves while others said they have been cleaned out and are praying for deliveries to arrive.
Motorists have been left hunting for fuel, some spending up to an hour in queues at filling stations nationwide. The owner of the BP at Cascades in Pietermaritzburg, Petros Sokela, said he ran dry on Thursday at about 8pm, but a delivery did arrive two hours later. Melanie Robert, from the finance division of the Engen in Hayfields, said yesterday afternoon that they were out of fuel, but were waiting for a tanker to arrive from Durban.
The Witness reported earlier this week that other filling stations in Pietermaritzburg were also heavily affected.
However, some filling stations have had no issues. The manager at the Sasol Garage on Booth Road in Durban, Pulen Pather, said their business has not been affected, but there are challenges with deliveries.
Pather said they were inundated with customers on Thursday when other stations went dry. The manager at the Engen One Stop on the N3 at Cato Ridge, Reegen Pillay, said they have not yet been affected.
However, both managers agreed they are hoping their situation will remain unchanged.
THE strike in the fuel sector won’t impact South African Airways (SAA), it said yesterday.
Fuel suppliers assured SAA that there are contingency measures in place to avoid operational disruptions stemming from the strike action, SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali said in a statement.
“SAA has been assured by its suppliers that there are fuel reserves in place to ensure continuous supply for the foreseeable future.
“Should the reserves be depleted, SAA will activate its own contingency measures to mitigate the impact of the fuel shortage on its operations.”
SAA will issue a travel advisory should the situation change for the worse. — Fin24.