Agri SA is calling on government to launch an urgent inquiry into the ongoing shortage of diesel to various industries. Farmers currently harvesting produce such as maize, citrus and other commodities are particularly hard hit due to the increase in cost and the limited availability of diesel in particular provinces.

Diesel shortage has far-reaching effects

The agricultural value chain is heavily dependent on diesel for harvesting and transporting produce to offset points. According to Agri SA, disruptions in supply can paralyse the industry and all commodities can potentially be affected.

For example, farmers in the northern parts of the country are busy harvesting summer grains at the moment. Given the fact that there currently is a high demand for white maize meal, the prolonged shortage of diesel could impact negatively on food security. The logistical linkages in the dairy and fresh produce supply chain is also particularly vulnerable, while high value export commodities such as citrus, fruit and macadamias may also be affected.

Working together to curb criminal activity

One of the key reasons for the shortage is the continuous vandalism and theft from the diesel supply lines between Durban and Johannesburg. This poses a serious challenge to Transnet, which owns, manages and operates an underground network of 3 800km of high-pressure petroleum and gas pipelines. Since April this year, more than 30 incidents of theft have occurred on the pipeline, during which more than 2 million litres of fuel were stolen.

Thieves are increasingly damaging the pipelines and associated infrastructure to steal diesel. This is extremely dangerous as they are not just endangering themselves and causing extensive damage to the environment, but their actions also endanger the lives of people living near the pipelines. In addition, they trespass on farmland and threaten the safety of farming communities in the vicinity of the pipeline.

Agri SA and its various provincial affiliates, in collaboration with Transnet, has launched a campaign encouraging farmers to report any criminal activity aimed at vandalising the pipeline to steal diesel. Any suspicious activities can be reported by calling 0800 203 843 or 031 361 1500, or SAPS Crime Stop on 08600 10111. Agri SA is also in continuous contact with Transnet regarding the safety of the farming community near the pipeline, as well as the pipeline itself.

As the economy opens up it is imperative that fuel supplies are secured. Agri SA urges Transnet, industry stakeholders and government to act swiftly on the matter to avoid further damage to the already fragile South African economy. – Press release, Agri SA