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More unrest could see Eswatini and Mozambique looking elsewhere for fuel

The recent riots, which affected fuel distribution from SA to its neighbours, are concerning, says spokesperson

10 August 2021 - 14:20 By nomahlubi sonjica
Minerals and energy regulation deputy director-general Tseliso Maqubela says retailers are still calculating the impact of the unrest.
COUNTING THE COST Minerals and energy regulation deputy director-general Tseliso Maqubela says retailers are still calculating the impact of the unrest.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

The looting and violent protests that gripped KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng last month affected the distribution of fuel locally and to Eswatini and Mozambique, placing local business at risk.

“There was loss of business when fuel could not be transported to Eswatini and Mozambique because of the impact on road transport,” said Tseliso Maqubela, minerals and energy regulation deputy director-general, briefing parliament on the impact of the riots on the petroleum sector on Tuesday.

Several businesses, including shops and warehouses, were looted, while trucks and buildings were burnt in what were believed to be protests against the incarceration of former president Jacob Zuma.

“The concern is that in the medium to long term, if we have a repeat of what happened, those countries will look for alternatives for supply of fuel.”

He said an assessment of the impact of the criminality was still being conducted last week.

“We are in constant contact with retailers. They are busy calculating the impact of the looting.

“When the riots broke out there was an impact on the movement of workers to the biggest refinery in the country, which is owned by Shell and BP.  That refinery had to shut down.”

According to Maqubela, the country lost a number of tons of crude oil, which impacted on the production of petrol and diesel.

“Fuel could not be moved from Durban to inland provinces. There were concerns about the availability of diesel to continue mining.”

He said the estimated cost of the riots to the economy was R50bn.

“There was an impact on mineral sales. We believe we will be able to see this in the July statistics. Because of the impact on port activity, some of the exports could not be undertaken timeously.”

The looting incidents also impacted jobs.

These, according Maqubela, would become available again when buildings that were damaged were rebuilt.

Retailers put the estimated cost at R2,81m, with 1,579 jobs temporarily affected.
Tseliso Maqubela, minerals and energy regulation deputy director-general

Production in mines was not affected.

“Although the production was not impacted, sales were impacted. There were depots that were closed as a precautionary measure.”

In KwaZulu-Natal, 94 services stations were closed.

“Sadly, 80 sites were looted and shops were damaged. In Gauteng, we had one site that was shut down. Two sites were looted. The number will increase as we obtain information from the retailers’ association.”

Maqubela said cash-in-transit companies also refused to move cash during the unrest.

This, he said, posed a threat to service stations as they kept a lot of cash. Fortunately, robberies at service stations did not occur.

Retailers put the estimated cost at R2,81m, with 1,579 jobs temporarily affected, Maqubela said.

Road transportation was affected negatively because the N3 was closed, he added.

“LPG was impacted from Richards Bay to the inland area. Over time, we were able to get the police and the defence force to escort key tankers.”

Maqubela said from the day the protests started, minerals and energy resources minister Gwede Mantashe convened meetings with various stakeholders, including petroleum companies, Nedlac and the retailers’ association.

“The protection of key facilities and escort of fuel delivery was achieved. There was a decision to say dispensing of fuel into containers needed to be stopped because containers were used in the looting and in starting fires. They were also used to target some of the security vehicles,” he said.


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