Repairs on Bayhead Road in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) are set to be completed next Tuesday, the eThekwini Municipality has confirmed.
The road, which collapsed due to the floods in KZN, is a strategic route for the movement of cargo to the Durban port.
The closure of the road has meant that trucks are unable to access container terminals and this is likely to have an impact on South Africa’s economy as a whole, according to Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana and KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala.
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At the same time, heavy vehicle fuel supplies from Island View Terminal in the Durban port resumed on Thursday.
In a statement, the eThekwini Municipality said heavy vehicles accessing Island View Terminal have had to use alternative roads – such as Bluff Road and Lighthouse Road – due to the damage and closure of Bayhead Road.
This saw fuel supply to the country being dramatically constrained.
Fuel distribution was restricted to 20% of the normal daily supply chain operation, strictly during daytime.
While supplies have since been increased to 60% of normal daily supply, the fuel industry and Transnet National Port Authorities (TNPA) raised concerns that the volume of fuel being was not sufficient to cater for the country’s fuel requirements and demand.
“This creates a risk of fuel stations running out of petrol and diesel in the coming days.
READ MORE: Durban floods disrupt key highways and business operations
“As the current heavy vehicle fuel supply operation moving through the Bluff has been well managed by law enforcement with limited impact, the meeting resolved to allow heavy vehicle fuel supplies to be increased from 20% to 60% of normal daily supply, and for the operation to be conducted over a 24-hour period to avoid fuel shortages throughout the country,” the municipality said.
The heavy vehicle fuel supplies will revert back to Bayhead Road once the repairs are completed.
Amid the fuel shortage concerns, government is planning to take further steps to ease the burden on motorists by deregulating the price of petrol.
This is follows Godongwana’s announcement in March of a temporary reduction of the general fuel levy (GFL), which decreased by R1.50 per litre from on 6 April and will end on 31 May.
At the time, the minister said the decrease will reduce the levy for petrol from R3.85 per litre to R2.35 per litre.
The move was seen a relief for motorists who continue to fork out money for the high petrol price.
Petrol prices went up earlier this month with 93 UPL petrol increasing by 28c per litre and 95 UPL by 36c, while the price of diesel increased by between R1.52 and R1.69 per litre.
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This means that 95 ULP now costs motorist R21.96 per in inland and R21.24 for the coastal areas.
Meanwhile, government’s deregulation plans will only occur once Treasury figures out how to recover the R90 billion loss from the fiscus it would see if fuel taxes are removed in one go.
According to Godongwana, there are many options on the table to achieve this, such as additional taxes on motor licence renewal fees to fund the Road Accident Fund (RAF).
There has been talks of the RAF levy being scrapped from the fuel levy and moving it elsewhere, which has been backed by Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy.