A motorist holds a fuel pump at a Gulf petrol station in London in this April 18, 2006 file photo. Oil dropped nearly 2 percent on March 20, 2012 as Saudi Arabia sought to knock back crude's price rise that has threatened the global economy, with the oil minister offering the most detailed argument to date that the OPEC nation was prepared to meet any supply shortfall. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor/Files (BRITAIN - Tags: BUSINESS ENERGY COMMODITIES)

Pretoria - Key municipal services came to a standstill on Monday after the City of Tshwane ran out of fuel at its depots because of an apparent “glitch” with a change in suppliers.

The municipal bus service could not function as normal because there was no diesel, leaving thousands of commuters stranded.

Metro police were also affected as officers had to drive for longer distances to depots to fill up, while a contingency plan was made for emergency services.

Many bus routes had no service after the diesel shortage, believed to have started a few days ago, worsened, with pumps at the depots eventually drying up.

City spokesman Selby Bokaba said the problem was caused by a transitional glitch between the previous service provider, whose contract had expired last Thursday, and the successor which Tshwane had just appointed.

“With effect from today, there will be a regular supply of fuel at all depots and bus operations are expected to return to normal,” Bokaba said.

Metro police spokesman Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba said their Centurion operation was badly hit as officers had to drive to the depot in the city centre to refuel.

Mahamba said in other areas where pumps at depot A, for instance, ran dry, their officers were able to get fuel from depot B.

Johan Pieterse, of Tshwane Emergency Services, said the city made a special arrangement for the department, and the impact of the fuel shortage was thus not felt.

Francois Bekker, DA spokesman for transport, said the crisis was evidence that Tshwane was unable to get its house in order.

This unacceptable state of affairs needed immediate political leadership to rectify, he said.

He said it was time for the political leadership, including the “invisible man of council”, the member of the mayoral committee for transport, George Matjila, to step out of the shadows and ensure frustrated commuters no longer arrived late for work or did not get to work at all.

“This situation is beyond the ridiculous. The ANC must stop its public relations exercises telling everyone how wonderfully the city is managed and rather focus on the real issues affecting residents directly,” Bekker added.

Bokaba said the City of Tshwane would like to apologise to bus commuters left stranded owing to the problem experienced with fuel at the city’s depots.

“The city’s corporate and fleet management has made a temporary arrangement for the refuelling of the municipal fleet at a specific fuel station,” he added.

“Small quantities of fuel have been sent to various depots to alleviate the problem.”

Bokaba said the new supplier would use an advanced, automated system to track where and how much fuel vehicles in the council’s fleet used.

“This will help eliminate the theft and irregular use of fuel.”

In recent months, the council has arrested several employees for the theft of fuel.

Matjila said the DA was barking up the wrong tree as the fuel contract did not fall within his transport portfolio.

[email protected]

Pretoria News