Fuel Situation Looks Up

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK SLOWLY but surely, major filling stations in the city and in outlying towns are becoming wet, with vital supplies of unleaded petrol, after a fuel tanker “Cape Benat” finally docked last Thursday at Walvis Bay. Shortly after docking, trucks from several oil suppliers started off-loading the first consignment of the much-needed fuel to the various outlying filling stations, while at the same time TransNamib rail tank wagons carried petroleum supplies to the nearest depot sites scattered along the nation’s railway network. Yesterday, Harald Schmidt of the Secretariat of the Namibian Oil Industry Association said: “huge volumes are being transported into the inland part of the country, while the other consignments are sent through to the official inland depot storages countrywide.” These larger depots include the ones in Windhoek, Okahandja, Otjiwarongo, Otavi, Tsumeb, Ondangwa, Mariental, Keetmanshoop, Karasburg and Gobabis. Supplies at these sites will then be distributed to the different filling stations. Last week, several filling stations in Windhoek and other parts of the country ran out of unleaded fuel and in some cases, some motorists hoarded fuel. “The truck drivers deliver and turn around rushing back to Walvis Bay harbour for more supplies. While road is more restricted to the weight amount of 36 tonnes of cargo, this amount can be exceeded when taken by rail,” stated Schmidt. He noted that both transport mediums are being used for the effective distribution of the unleaded fuel and diesel throughout the country. The latest distribution of fuel in Namibia is welcome following fuel supply disruptions caused by the temporary shutdowns of major oil refineries of Caltex and Sasol in neighbouring South Africa, from where Namibia sources its fuel. A random survey involving some petrol stations in the city and outlying towns to ascertain the current situation, revealed that while some had already received the supplies over the weekend and early yesterday morning, others were still waiting for their consignments. “We are running normal now because we received between 2 000 and 3 000 litres of unleaded and diesel this morning (Monday),” said a manager of a petrol station in Keetmanshoop. The same wet circumstances prevailed at the town of Okahandja, where the Engen filling station has been up and running since last Saturday. However, its owner Pieter O’Callaghan said that there was still a problem of diesel shortages. “All the trucks that come here fill up with 48 thousand litres of diesel and we now only have 35 000 litres,” said O’Callaghan, adding that he was still waiting for diesel stocks. On the other hand, the Fourways Total Otavi station said they had enough unleaded petroleum amounting to 12 000 litres. However, fears are that this supply will only last two more days before it runs out again. “As from Thursday, Friday and the coming weekend of Christmas, we will be very busy because we are situated on the main road like a halfway stop between the north and the central area,” said concerned owner Christo Dreyer. The supply of diesel is also running thin because most of the mini-buses that stop over at the Otavi station make use of this product, where the demand is said to be much higher due to the festive season. “We anticipate a big rush as from Thursday and I don’t know what’s to happen when we run dry again,” added Dreyer. As for Windhoek, some filling stations in the central areas remained wet, while most of those on the outside remained dry. This was largely due to the strategic approach of rationing fuel taken by some oil companies over the past week due to the disrup- tions. However, oil experts gave assurances that within the next couple of days, all petrol stations in the country would be wet. This looks even more likely as the second and third shipment tankers from South Africa to Namibia are due on December 26 and 28.