“We hear and understand the concerns surrounding the current fuel situation in Port Elizabeth (PE) that has resulted from the closure of the Transnet harbour off-loading facility. We greatly sympathise with everyone affected by this situation that is not of our making, but which we now need to help resolve. We assure you we are doing everything we can to keep the motorists on the road over the peak season. In the interests of transparency we would like to give some more specific details about the current challenges facing us.
“As has been previously announced, fuel ships that should have docked in PE have been diverted to East London and to Mossel Bay. The challenge is getting the fuel back to Port Elizabeth. This means that delivery to a service station in PE that should have taken at most a two hour turn-around from the truck leaving the depot to its return for the next load, can now take as much as nine or ten hours. In effect a PE based truck is now delivering one fifth of the fuel it usually delivers. So while fuel is getting through, it is at a much slower rate.
“A further constraint is that each truck requires a “safe loading permit” for each point at which it takes on fuel. We have applied for permits for our PE based trucks to load in East London. These permits are trickling through from the authorities. As ours is only one of many companies facing this situation the demand for such permits has been exceptional.
“Contingencies have been spoken about, and some of them are that we have managed to secure the loan of six additional trucks for the duration of the current situation. Again, because this problem is not just confined to one fuel company, the transport industry capacity has been fully taken up. A further constraint is that we can only load one truck at a time, and we now have double the number of trucks filling up in East London. We have employed additional drivers, and are running the trucks every available hour allowed by law. Our retailers throughout the province are accepting deliveries right around the clock to assist in alleviating the current situation. We estimate that throughout the industry there will be additional fuel trucks on the road in the Eastern Cape this season and caution motorists to take this into consideration when planning their trips.
Berlyn added that special attention is given to high traffic areas frequented by travellers and efforts are focused on managing deliveries for optimal supply across our region.
“Regarding the duration of the current situation, we would like to caution the motorists that this could take up to two weeks to normalise once the loading dock is operational. There is obviously no stock in the PE depot tanks and the service stations’ stocks will be very low. Under normal circumstances it would take time to fill the supply chain again. At this time of year, when demand is high, it will take longer. Once again we would like to assure you that we will continue to do whatever we can to keep the motoring public on the roads. Once the dock is operational again, we will communicate about the general situation to the public. We will not, however, give specific details about where fuel is being delivered to avoid “panic buying”. We recommend that customers keep in touch with their regular service station for updates which will also be posted on the Caltex Eastern Cape facebook page.
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