Fuel shortage reports 'exaggerated'

Reports that the country is on the brink of a national petrol and diesel shortage due to the road freight industry strike are exaggerated, the South African Petroleum Industry Association (Sapia) said on Tuesday.

“The daily reports I receive from Sapia members demonstrate that the industry is acting in the national interest and maintaining supplies to the majority of the 5 000 service stations countrywide,” Sapia executive director Avhapfani Tshifularo said in a statement.

At worst, some service stations had temporarily run out of stocks of some grades of fuel.

“I am glad to say that the contingency plans, drawn up and activated by our members ... have been effective, despite some attempts to intimidate industry staff drivers who are not members of the striking union.”

Tshifularo appealed to those trying to intimidate fuel road tanker drivers to allow them to carry out their duties without interference.

“All Sapia members take the safety of their staff very seriously and I am assured that no driver is being sent into unsafe situations.”

The strike by the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union’s (Satawu) members in the road freight industry entered its seventh day on Tuesday.

“The strike continues. We’ve had overwhelming support from our members, between 80% and 90% are participating,” Satawu general secretary Randall Howard said earlier.

Satawu’s demands include a 13% pay increase and four months’ paid maternity leave, with a job guarantee on return to work.

The Road Freight Employers’ Association has offered salary increases of between 10,5% and 11%.—Sapa

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