SA riots spark shortages in Lesotho

SA riots spark shortages in Lesotho

MASERU – LESOTHO is already starting to feel the economic impact of the riots and looting in South Africa.
The riots that started last weekend, following former President Jacob Zuma’s jailing, triggered massive violence that has left property worth billions destroyed.

Hundreds of businesses were looted and burnt in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal provinces. Lesotho gets most of its products from those provinces and it hasn’t taken long for the country to feel the impact.
Some garages were already running out of petrol and diesel at the time of going to print last night.

Judas Judas from Puma Energy Filling Auto Pride Maseru said they are already running out of diesel.
He said they were only left with a small amount of petrol which could only last for a few days.
“We placed an order to Puma, but due to the riots in South Africa, they did not promise anything anytime soon,” Judas said.
Judas said they would shut down if they don’t get deliveries in the next two days.

The looming fuel shortage has triggered panic-buying.
“People are not only filling their cars, but they are also filling their tins,” said a petrol attendant at Lesotho Nissan Garage.
“We are going to run out of fuel in a few days if not tomorrow,” she said.
Lebona Lephema, the Managing Director of Executive Transport, a fuel haulage company, said the strike has hit his business hard.
He confirmed that the Engen Garage’s capacity has been stretched but the company is working hard to open new supply stations outside Gauteng and Durban.

“Our trucks have been kept safe in Durban since the N3 (highway) has been closed because of the riots,” Lephema said.
“The trucks bringing fuel will come when the situation has been resolved,” he said.
Lephema said they are working very hard to supply the Engen stations in the country with the quantity they require so that there cannot be any shortage of fuel.

“It is not going to be easy but we are already working on them.”
Lephema said when the situation goes back to normal it is also going to be hard to catch up since fuel capacity would have gone down in their tanks.
He said there is going to be much congestion since even in Gauteng the fuel stations are already running out of fuel.
Chief Executive Officer of Private Sector Foundation of Lesotho (PSFL), Thabo Qhesi, said they hope and believe this strike issue will be resolved very soon.

He said there are already some initiatives taken by the business associations in South Africa, where they asked for government intervention.
The riots have affected small businesses as well.
Teboho Lekhotla, the Managing Director of KOA Fleet Services, said they had now stopped operations.
This means even the businesses they are supplying the materials and stock are suffering too.

Lekhotla explained their business delivers goods and materials to businesses and individuals from South Africa to Lesotho.
Lekhotla said on Monday they were supposed to have gone to South Africa but they could not go.
“We got the message from one of our colleagues in South Africa that a strike was looming,” he said, adding that it is even worse for Basotho’s cars to move in such provinces.

He said this strike has led to the closing of shops where they stock for their clients.
He said that since they stock in the Johannesburg CBD not in the malls, the shops were not vandalised.
He said they normally do more than two trips in a week.
“There are regular clients who order business materials from South Africa every week,” Lekhotla said.

He said they have about eight steady clients that buy stock every week that are already affected.
He mentioned people who manufacture freezer jackets who work on orders.
Lekhotla also mentioned restaurants that have weekly orders.
“This might lead to a total shutdown of many businesses in Lesotho,” he said.

Tšepiso Mpobole who is dealing with the importation of clothes and eggs for incubation said they are already feeling the pinch.
Mpobole said they normally go to South Africa every week to buy stock in Johannesburg and eggs in Durban which are the worst affected provinces.
She said they failed to go this week because there is no movement in South Africa and the shops they buy clothes from were burnt down.
Mpobole said even when the riots are over, they will struggle to find new suppliers.

“This is going to affect the prices since we are going to buy from new shops,” she said, adding that even the demand which is already high is going to push the prices higher.
Business associations in South Africa have warned of looming food shortages and increases in prices.

Refiloe Mpobole

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