Oct 3rd: I popped into the Tugela Truck Stop late yesterday afternoon and – later in the evening – into the Highway Junction truck stop in Harrismith to get a handle on the reality of the diesel price increase of R1.24 per litre – which kicked in at midnight – on the truckers of South Africa. At Tugela, one truck filled up with 589 litres (50ppm) at R15.28 per litre. The total came to R9 000. Add the R1.24 per litre increase from 12.00pm, and the same 589 litres would add another R730.44 bringing the total cost to R9 730.44. This truck was carrying yellow maize to Durban harbour for export. Later, at Highway Junction in Harrismith, there was a rush to fill up before the 12 o’clock deadline.
The pictures here don’t do justice to the queue lining up to beat the deadline. It was hectic. One truck driver I spoke to – Peter Theron from L.M. Botha Vervoer (seen in the picture below) who was driving a Mercedes-Benz Actros 2646 curtainsider link – said the increase would add R60 000 per month to the fuel bill of their five truck fleet. Now check this out. When he left Durban, he put in 615 litres at R13.96 per litre giving a total of R8 582. At Highway Junction, he topped up with 243 litres at R14.38 per litre to get him to Cape Town. This came to R3 493.20. The pump price was R14.78. When he reaches Cape Town tomorrow, he will fill up again with 850 litres for the trip back. He looked up in his book for the price per litre the last time he filled up in Cape Town. It was R14.00. By the time he reaches Cape Town, the R1.24 cents per litre hike will have kicked in so he’ll be paying R15.24 cents per litre for that 850 litres totaling R12 954. Before the increase he would have paid R11 900 – so that’s an extra R1 054. In short, for the three fills – in Durban, Harrismith and Cape Town – the old price was R23 975. Add the R1.24 cents per litre increase and he is now paying R26 094 – an extra R2 119 for the same amount of litres. That’s the reality of the diesel price hike.
Now multiply that by the many thousands and thousands of trucks that ply our roads and one can begin to get an idea of the enormity of this fuel price hike on the trucking industry. It’s a killer and I’ve yet to see any ‘high profile’ commentator mentioning the impact these hikes are having on the trucking sector. All focus seems to fall on the hard-pressed consumer. Well, that hard-pressed consumer is going to become even more ‘pressed’ when the impact of the fuel hikes on trucking filters through to the shelves. No trucker can afford to absorb these increases. They have to be passed on. It’s not a pretty picture we’re looking at.