Commenting on behalf of the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber, CEO Kevin Hustler, said; “The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber believes strongly that information relating to the true nature of the repairs to be effected at the Port of Port Elizabeth Tanker Berth, as well as timelines and contingency plans, should have been transparently communicated to business and the community of Port Elizabeth in a timeous fashion.
Our demand is for a speedy resolution of this matter, and for Transnet National Ports Authority to communicate with all parties, including the community, regarding the exact situation on the ground. We must be provided with a definitive deadline on repairs, and on all contingency plans that are in place to avert this crisis from turning into a catastrophe. The potential economic impact is immeasurable at this time.
According to the statement released by Transnet National Ports Authority on 3 December 2014, as well as reports in the local media on 4 December 2014, it was clearly stated that not only was a contractor already on site at the Tanker Berth operations in the Port of Port Elizabeth, but that operations would be ready to resume on Monday 8 December 2014. To mitigate supply disruptions, it was reported that the oil companies had contingency plans in place to ensure the continuity of supply.
It was also clearly stated by the Head of Security Supply for the SA Petroleum Industry, Siganeko Magafela in the same report, that supply stands at 15 days, but that should work being done at the berth extend beyond Monday, a fuel crisis could arise.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber raises the query that based on routine maintenance inspections, surely any damage or potential risk issues regarding the equipment at the tanker berth would have been raised in a timeous manner, and emergency or alternative plans prepared for such an eventuality?
The Chamber believes strongly that information should have been transparently shared with the fuel companies who are tenants of TNPA. As the landlord, TNPA is clearly responsible for the operations of the tanker berth, and effecting the repairs that are required.
The manner in which this issue has been handled leads business to question the assertion that there was a 15 day-supply in the tanks at the time of the release to mitigate against any potential lengthy repair period and its disastrous consequences.
There appears to have been a lack of transparent communication between all parties. In the midst of an emergency which has the potential to become a crisis, the golden rule is always to over-communicate. Right now, both business and citizens of Nelson Mandela Bay appear to be up the creek without a paddle.
Compounding the current situation is the fact that consumers held back on buying petrol because of the decrease in the fuel price which came into effect this week. With a reduction of supply to retailers, consumers rushed to the pumps, in a double whammy. These factors have resulted in the stations pumping way in excess of their usual daily average.
The challenge will be that once the repair is complete at the tanker berth, it could require at least another ten days for the fuel retailers to achieve a balance of normal stock at all sites. Add to this the influx of holiday makers at this time of year, and we will find that demand exceeds supply in the Eastern Cape. We have been assured by the oil companies that they will endeavour in their very best efforts to keep all priority sites on major incoming and outgoing routes wet with fuel.
They may, however, have to resort to rationing at some sites. They have requested consumers to please be patient, as they attempt to serve the needs of all concerned.
This will have tremendous impact on road haulage companies and on all forms of transport-reliant businesses. This is a peak time for manufacturers to transfer goods to key markets throughout the country, in the quest to ensure that they keep the shelves full during this peak season.
There is a ray of hope in one thing, and that is that a ship supplied the Port of East London yesterday. We understand that all attempts are being made to keep the tank facility in East London at maximum capacity, with additional supply being trucked into Nelson Mandela Bay by road. This is of course not an ideal situation, but it is the best contingency that the oil companies could put in place at such short notice.”
The following two tabs change content below.