South Africa: Twitter fuels Gauteng motorists amid shortages


Internet users provided a list of service stations in SA that had fuel supply on Thursday. The page called #gotpetrol was started on popular social networking site Twitter by Andy Parks.

The names of services stations with fuel, the street name and city were being tweeted since early morning hours. “Total garage William Nicol JHB near Sandton drive,” wrote Sarah Theron. “Just filled up at Caltex next to Bryanston Shopping Centre (just off Grosvenor). Looks like they only had 93 Unleaded,” said another, Jon Hoehler.

Tweets were streaming through quickly from various parts of the country. Some users gave their views on the strike by fuel workers, while others cracked jokes about it. “Did u know jhb has a petrol station almost every 2kms … they missing one important thing wait I know FUEL,” tweeted Brenz2011.

“The strikes have barely started and people already struggling to get petrol. Wonder how long this will last? Anyway, it spells chaos,” wrote Marynamoore.

Earlier, the Fuel Retailers Association said at least 150 service stations in Gauteng and 50 in KwaZulu-Natal were without fuel by the close of business on Wednesday.

Chief executive Reggie Sibiya said the strike had crippled the country and was “bleeding businesses”.

Automobile Association spokesman Gary Ronald said the Twitter feed was useful and well thought out. He said fuel shortages were more widespread than initially anticipated, and spread faster than previous years.

“I think what has happened now is that the contingency plans by the refineries have not worked as well as they thought they would.”

This year, motorists listened to the warnings ahead of the strike and had rushed to top up their tanks for the weeks ahead, said Ronald. “If a lot of people did that, the demand of fuel would have increased and supply decreased, and now there is not enough supply available for everybody. This accelerated the shortages. But some stations had refuelled overnight.”

The 70 000 fuel workers from the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood, and Allied Workers Union, the Allied Workers Union, and the General Industries Workers Union of SA downed tools on Monday, demanding a minimum salary of R6 000/month and a 40-hour working week.