Shell calls force majeure on fuel in South Africa


Sat, Oct 06, 2012 - Page 15

Shell has declared force majeure on fuel deliveries in South Africa’s economic hub of Gauteng province, which includes Johannesburg and Pretoria, due to a two-week strike by more than 20,000 truck drivers, the company said yesterday.

“There is fuel available across the country so the issue is not fuel supply, but the challenge is delivering it safely to our retail sites,” Shell said in an e-mailed response to questions.

Force majeure allows the company and its customers to break contracts due to situations beyond their control and its invocation is a sign of the truckers’ strike starting to bite in Africa’s biggest economy, which is already under strain from a wave of wildcat walkouts by platinum, gold and iron ore miners.

Near the “platinum belt” city of Rustenburg, 120km northwest of Johannesburg, hundreds of protesters barricaded streets with rocks and burning tyres yesterday close to a mine belonging to top producer Anglo American Platinum (Amplats).

The unscheduled strikes also spread to manufacturing sector for the first time this week, with workers at Toyota’s Durban car plant downing tools on Monday to demand higher pay. The strike was resolved on Thursday, with unions saying workers had received a 5.4 percent pay hike.

“As far as I know the guys have been pitching up for work and production has restarted,” Toyota South Africa Motors spokesman Leo Kok said.

Kok said the stayway was linked to implementation of a 2010 bargaining agreement.

“We are happy that we could resolve the dispute in such an amicable and speedy manner and we look forward to returning to full production tomorrow,” he said.