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Fake news alert: There is no nationwide fuel shortage or petrol station shutdown

A voice note doing the rounds of social media of a nationwide fuel shortage and petrol station shutdown on Friday is fake news, the Fuel Retailers Association (FRA) assured.

The FRA told Zululand Observer it would be business as usual for fuel stations.

SA Petroleum Industry Association spokesperson Cindy-Lee Maneveld told Pretoria Rekord they were not previously aware of the hoax, but that to their knowledge, it was fake news.

Automobile Association (AA) spokesperson Layton Beard told the publication they were not aware of a planned shutdown.

The soundbite went viral on Thursday morning, with a woman warning the shutdown would start on Friday and could extend into the weekend.

The unknown woman said people should fill up their tanks, sparking widespread panic among commuters and motorists.

This combined with a recent fuel price hike and continued uncertainty of fuel availability, owed to conflict in Ukraine, sparked a wave of worry.

Rumours swirled earlier this week of potentially soaring petrol prices due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The spike in Brent crude oil prices showed no signs of abating.

André Thomashausen, an emeritus professor of international law at Unisa, said a worst-case scenario for South Africa would be a fuel price of R40 per litre.

Political economy analyst Piet Croucamp told The Citizen while oil and gas prices have been marching upward for months, this particular increase would not be because of the rand, but generally due to the instability which could potentially spill over into markets.

Croucamp also said Russian oil may not lead to shortages worldwide, sanctions against Russia would destabilise markets.

“Government must act quickly to deal more effectively with the fuel price to mitigate against rising costs that negatively impact all consumers in the country,” the AA’s Beard said.

“Our economy is closely linked to the fuel price; it is a major input cost in the manufacturing, retailing and agricultural sectors.

“We have noted before that a review of the current structure of the fuel price and an audit of all the elements that comprise the fuel price should be done sooner, rather than later.”

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