The Rhodesia Herald,
January 6, 1966
OIL companies in Rhodesia are prepared to help service stations whose business is severely crippled by petrol rationing.
Spokesmen for the leading companies said yesterday they were watching the situation closely. While the companies have not yet been approached for assistance, they realise many businesses are suffering.
The general reaction was that every effort would be made to keep garages and filling stations from closing. Those most affected are in the country, or on the outskirts of town, and have depended mainly on passing trade.
No definite plans have been disclosed by the oil companies, but rent cuts and increased subsidies are two ways in which some service station owners or managers have suggested they can be helped.
The managing director of Mobil Oil Rhodesia, Mr L.A. Simpson said, “Naturally, if some people are going to be hard-hit, and many stations in the country, depending on transient business will be — then we will help them.
“Some of them have come off better than they were before, but others have been hit rather badly. We won’t be late on this one. We have our plans set, but we cannot move until we see how it is going to work out.”
The managing director of BP Rhodesia, Mr J.B.D. Schoeman, said: “We have no specific instances where we have been approached by any station for help, but it is only natural that some of them are going to suffer.
“We certainly have to do something about this. We must try to keep all of them going somehow, but each case will be treated on its merits.”
A Caltex spokesman said, “It’s difficult to assess what is happening until the dust settles, but this is something we are going to look into.
“There are all kinds of ramifications — rents, loans, grants — but any case of hardship that comes up will be treated on its merits.”
A statement from the Shell Co. said: “When normal trading conditions return, our object is naturally to ensure that our service station network will be fully operative and for this reason alone, we shall do our best to assist if any cases of hardship occur.”
A Total Oil spokesman said the company was “deeply concerned” about the position, but it was too early yet to say what could be done.
LESSONS FOR TODAY
The fuel business like other businesses involves risk, and when hit by sanctions, which would then result in rationing, the ramifications are felt across board.
As Zimbabwe continues to face fuel challenges, the ramifications felt five decades ago are still there, but they also need to be the rallying point in finding lasting solutions. The problems include issues like rentals, loans, grants, etc. How are the dozens of service stations countrywide coping? Are the owners — both big and small — speaking to Government with one voice?
If water, electricity and other consumer products are now rationed, why not fuel so that everyone benefits, and insecurity is lessened? We cannot allow the fuel industry to operate the way it is right now, considering that it has become a haven of corruption, and there are claims that it is controlled by cartels that thrive on chaotic situations?
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