Several Towns Run Out of Fuel

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK SEVERAL towns are experiencing fuel shortages as a result of the delay of petrol delivery into the country. Motorists are reportedly stocking on unleaded fuel, as leaded petrol that is deemed unfriendly to the environment will be phased out in a few weeks’ time, causing the present shortages. When New Era conducted random surveys with various fuel stations in some towns yesterday, it became apparent there is a high demand for unleaded petrol (Premium 95) because motorists seemingly fear it could run out. According to the Namibian Oil Industry Association, the current fuel supply disruptions are taking place as a result of temporary shutdowns of oil refineries run by SASOL and Caltex in neighbouring South Africa, from where Namibia imports its fuel. These events have already sent a sense of panic among the public, especially at a time when most Namibians are planning to travel long distances over the festive season. Among the towns that had by yesterday run out of unleaded fuel were Keetmanshoop, LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz, Rosh Pinah and Oshakati though there were still huge amounts of diesel in reserve. At Oshakati, only a BP filling station had unleaded fuel by yesterday, while other filling stations such as Shell and Engen had exhausted their reserves. Because of the shortage, apart from rushing to fill up their fuel tanks, people rushed to the station with some empty containers to get stocks. “Here in Oshakati, people are panicking because they don’t know where to go since they all want to go on holiday,” said the owner of BP Leilani van der Heeven. She said that yesterday morning they received 5 000 litres of petroleum and by the time of this interview in the afternoon, they only had 1 900 litres left. Van der Heeven stated that the station would receive another 4 000 litres by today, after which they would have to wait for the bulk shipment expected to land and be offloaded at Walvis Bay tomorrow. On the other hand, leaded petrol (93 Premium) is still in good supply at most of the petrol stations in the north. The crisis is more acute at Keetmanshoop where petrol ran out last week at both Caltex and Engen service stations. “People are even calling in to ask for personal fuel supply and my station was the one that dried up first,” said one station manager in Keetmanshoop. As a result of the shortage, residents of Keetmanshoop now have to travel a few kilometres out of the town to get fuel supplies. By yesterday, LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz was also out of fuel at the only two petrol stations of Caltex and Total. “We have no leaded or unleaded petrol, only diesel now because over 90 000 litres of fuel was out by yesterday (Sunday) and now we are only waiting for the tanker that is coming on Wednesday this week. Rosh Pinah is also up and dry now,” said Caltex owner Paul la Grange yesterday. The expected shipment of fuel from South Africa is likely to ease the situation and those in the industry are adamant the situation has not assumed crisis dimensions. BP and Engen Namibia last week indicated that they would strategically ration some outlying petrol stations in the country. Therefore in the meantime fuel is being rationed at some outlying stations, while the country patiently awaits the shipment from South African due tomorrow. The Managing Director of BP Namibia, Sibusiso Zulu confirmed that there is unleaded fuel at the company’s filling stations unlike at those of its competitors. “The country has not run dry because there is fuel in the country,” said Zulu, adding that the company’s current fuel supply at Walvis Bay is adequate for now. “It may just happen that while there may not be any fuel at one station, the next one will have supply,” he explained. Due to the rationing, only strategic areas like some filling stations, mines, hospitals, the police and some Government structures have petroleum. Namibians are being advised to remain calm because the situation is under control, says those leading the industry.

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