First the Floods, Now No Fuel!

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Motorists using the main south transport corridor that links Namibia to South Africa were not only affected by the inaccessible roads during the weekend, but were yesterday faced with another predicament – lack of fuel. Operations Manager for BP Namibia in Mariental Baans Tsumib confirmed to New Era that the two main Engen service stations at the town were closed. He said his office might only open the service stations tomorrow when the level of floodwater is expected to go down. “We are ready to supply as soon as the water dries up, hopefully by Wednesday,” he said. Faced with the same situation, Regional Manager for Shell Company Etienne Delport stated that though the service stations in Mariental have fuel, it is impossible to pump because the hand-pumps are submerged in water. The opening of the service stations would not only depend on the water levels going down but also on tests that will decide whether or not the fuel is contaminated. The tarred road passing Mariental has been under water since the town was flooded and is now accessible. An engineer with the Roads Authority said although the road was still under water, it was now open to traffic. Yesterday, the alternative road to Mariental, which passes through Gibeon, Gochas and Stampriet, was also temporarily closed due to a truck that had overturned and blocked the road. The truck has since been towed away and there is no hold up anymore. Yesterday morning, King Quentin, Managing Director of Taeuber and Corssen (pty) Ltd, a company that supplies chicken and cheese to most supermarkets in the country including Pick ‘n’ Pay, indicated that four of their delivery trucks were stranded between Kalkrand and Rehoboth due to lack of fuel. “We hope to get to Rehoboth because in Kalkrand, there is no diesel.” His fears were that the four are refrigerated trucks and if they could not make it to Windhoek, the perishable goods, 60 tonnes of chicken and 20 tonnes of cheese, would go bad. Should that happen, the loss would run into thousands of dollars, he told New Era. The trucks were expected in Windhoek on Sunday morning for offloading. However, the delay did not have a negative impact on the local supply, as there was sufficient stock, King stated. The manager of South African chain shops such as Fruit & Veg City that operates in the capital and the town of Swakopmund, Leon Nel told New Era that nine trucks loaded with fresh vegetables and fruits were delayed by one day because of the Mariental floods. Though not to a large extent, this inconvenienced some customers who might have wanted to purchase fresh vegetables and fruits such as grapes, pears, peaches, and bananas, which cannot be obtained locally. “Our customers would have had fresh veggies and fruits in the morning today but we will have a day without certain stock,” he said. While this is the case, there is an alternative route, the Trans Kalahari Corridor (TKC), which is not only faster but saves costs, says the Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WBCG). For goods emanating from the Gauteng area especially, WBCG Business Development Officer Stella Auala says, the TKC makes more business sense. “When we are talking about time and costs, it’s an alternative route,” she added. Although the corridor group has been conducting awareness campaigns to make people utilise the route, it has been a challenge to change people’s mindsets. “We have marketed it as an alternative but people stick to the same route,” she said.