By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK THE eagerly awaited ship carrying bulk fuel supplies to Namibia is set to dock at Walvis Bay this afternoon, to end fuel shortages being experienced at several filling stations across the country because of the phasing out of leaded petrol. The fuel tanker carries the much-needed unleaded fuel and other products that would remedy the shortages already being experienced in some parts of the country. Confirming the arrival of the tanker, Harald Schmidt of the Secretariat of the Namibian Oil Industry Association said that the vessel was initially expected to arrive on Tuesday but is only due this afternoon since it had to stop over in Cape Town for the additional loading of petroleum products before heading for Walvis Bay. “First it will call at Cape Town for additional diesel products and as a result of the weather conditions it could not load earlier last week, experiencing a short delay,” explained Schmidt. He said the ship is on course to its destination and reassured the public once again that all the necessary mechanisms have been put in place for the ship to dock at Walvis Bay this afternoon. The additional loading would ensure Namibia has sufficient fuel reserves once the ship has landed. Namibia faced temporary fuel supply disruptions. This was due to the fact that the scheduled statutory shutdowns of South Africa’s oil refineries Sasol and Caltex took much longer than was initially anticipated. The shutdowns were done in preparation for the changeover from leaded to unleaded petroleum products in the country that comes into effect in two weeks’ time. Over the past few days, Namibians have been panicking about the fuel shortages, rushing to service stations to fill their vehicles and even hoarding fuel in plastic containers. However, Minister of Mines and Energy Errki Nghtimna urged the public to remain calm as the situation was under control. Schmidt commended oil companies for being able to manage their existing supplies. The rationing of certain outlying petrol stations especially those for emergency service entities like hospitals, mines, the police and some Government ministries was a strategic move to contain the temporary shortages. However, the shortages would be something of the past when new stocks arrive. In light of the ship’s arrival this afternoon, oil companies such as BP Namibia are ready to dispatch several empty trucks for refuelling at the Walvis Bay port. The managing director of the company Sibusiso Zulu told New Era that the reason for using road transport for distribution to its filling stations this week was because “it shortens the delivery time”. The company’s strategy has always been to keep all its filling stations wet even with its rather “tight” fuel supplies. The 35 000 to 40 000 litre trucks with trailers will be present at the BP Walvis Bay Depot for refuelling. The second load of petroleum shipment from South Africa into the country would be offloaded on December 25. The third shipment would land later this month.
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