While the South African Petroleum Refineries outside Durban has declared a “force majeure” due to the violence and looting in KwaZulu-Natal, motorists have been streaming in to petrol stations to fill up.

Some service stations in Tshwane yesterday said they still had fuel for about two days, but they were not sure what the future held.

AA spokesperson Layton Beard, however, called on people not to panic at this stage as there was still enough fuel. But he warned that the country could face fuel shortages in the days to come.

The SA Petroleum Refineries said in a letter issued to its suppliers that due to the civil unrest in the country and disruption of supply routes in and out of KwaZulu-Natal, suppliers of critical materials are experiencing a suspension of deliveries.

This is due to safety concerns for staff and damage to their vehicles on the roads.

It said that without the critical materials and with no clarity as to how long the unrest would last and normal supply would resume, it was unable to sustain refinery operations.

Consequently, the SA Petroleum Refineries said it had been forced to make the difficult decision to shut down the refinery.

As a result, SA Petroleum Refineries declared a force majeure, excusing it from executing its duties.

SA Petroleum Refineries is the largest crude oil refinery in the country with 35% of South Africa’s refining capacity. It is a joint venture between Shell Refining SA and BP Southern Africa. It produces 24 000 tons of crude per day and produces 2.7 billion liters of petrol each year.

Meanwhile Pretoria east motorist Edwin Smith said he was not taking any chances and while he still had some fuel, he decided to fill-up.

“It is really scary not to know whether we will have petrol or not in days to come. It is not only about getting to work, but also about food deliveries to the still functioning shops.”

Another motorist who did not want to be identified, said she was only able to put in a maximum of R400’s worth of petrol, as the petrol station rationed motorists in fear of running dry.

A significant portion of the N3 between Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal – one of the main roads for the delivery of goods – have been closed since the weekend when several trucks were set alight.

The N3 Toll Concession yesterday (Wednesday) announced that the portion between Harrismith and Heidelberg has been reopened, but the route between Cedara outside Pietermaritzburg and Harrismith remained closed to all traffic due to safety concerns.


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