SA riots a threat to fuel supply

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By Kefiloe Kajane

Several motorists this week were seen lining up for fuel supply at different petrol stations in Maseru urban, in anticipation of any shortage of the products following the violent riots in neighbouring South Africa.

Motorists who were queueing at the petroleum outlets were skeptical that the riots in that country which have seen destruction of properties would end soon.

The protests that broke last week initially in South Africa’s Kwazulu-Natal Province before spreading to Gauteng, saw many businesses damaged including burnt trucks, looting and gutting by fire shopping malls and other small enterprises.

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Local motorists told this paper they feared for a possible shortage of fuel prompting, them to rush to the stations for a fill up.

They were fearful the petroleum products would run out in the next few days if the riots and destruction of property continued.

Police and the army have been deployed in volatile areas in that country to help deal with the situation that started with a campaign to free former president Jacob Zuma who has been incarcerated for a 15-month period by his country’s Constitutional Court.

A public transport driver Motloheloa Motloheloa said he was filling up his car and buying extra 20l liters of petrol for storage so as to “stay safe in the coming days.”

He said he is dependent on fuel as his job would be lost as a result of any possible limited availability of the fuel.

“It is already expensive but I have to buy plenty of it just to be safe because we do not know what is going to happen if the riots in South Africa continue,” he thought.

A source from Lesotho’s Petroleum Fund told this paper that “there is a possibility of shortage of petrol in the country.”

He said that was because the country buys some of the oil products from South Africa’s city of Durban in the Kwazulu-Natal Province where the riots began.

In a statement released by Puma Energy South Africa that supply Lesotho and Eswatini, the company said it was experiencing supply constraints due to the widespread riots and protests across South Africa.

It said that their suppliers and the Richard Bay terminal have stopped supply and transporters have put on halt the freight services.

It told its customers: “We will keep you updated on the status of the supply and delivery constraints and wish to assure you that that we will work with our supply teams to take all possible steps in limit to disruptions and impacts on your business.”

In its recent announcement Shell and BP South African Petroleum Refineries (SAPREF) warned that due to the civil unrest in South Africa and disruption of supply routes in and out of the Kwa-Zulu Natal, suppliers of materials critical to its operations communicated the suspension of deliveries to the refinery on basis of safety concerns for their staff and damages to their vehicles on the roads.

It was firm that without the said materials and with no clarity as to how long the unrest will last and normal supply resume, SAPREF is unable to sustain refinery operations. Consequently, SAPREF has been obliged to make the difficult decision to shut down the refinery, it urged.

“As a result, of the afore going, SAPREF hereby declares the occurrence of an event of force majeure, excusing SAPREF from performing under the agreement. In the case of a complete shutdown of the refinery, the continuation of your agreement with your agreement with SAPREF on the same terms and conditions become impossible.

“To this end, SAPREF focal point will make contact with you to further communicate with impact of this notice on your resources and or equipment on all SAPREF cites. We trust that the need for this action in this critical time appreciated,” the statement read.

According to chief executive officer of Business Leadership South Africa Busiswe Mavuso more than 200 shopping malls and 600 shops had been looted by Monday afternoon this week.

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