Sasol declares force majeure for some items because of Transnet strike

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South African petrochemical firm Sasol on Thursday declared force majeure on the supply and export of certain products because of the impact of the strike at state-owned logistics firm Transnet.

Transnet workers went on strike for nearly two weeks from October 6 over a wage dispute, paralysing freight rail and port operations and throttling exports from Africa’s most advanced economy.

Sasol, the world’s biggest producer of fuel products from coal and a chemicals manufacturer, said the strike affected the movement of raw materials and products between its plants and ports.

“As a result, Sasol has declared force majeure on the local supply and export of certain chemical products. Production rates at selected plants in Secunda and Sasolburg have been impacted,” Sasol said in a statement.

The company said it was not yet able to quantify the impact on its South African value chains “as the extent and timing to clear the backlogs across the port and rail system remain uncertain”.

Sasol’s Natref fuel refinery had not suffered any disruption during the strike, it said.

Operations returning back to normal

On Wednesday, Transnet said its freight rail and port operations were returning to normal service after the 12-day strike that throttled commodities exports and impacted the economy.

The rail company and the United National Transport Union (Untu) agreed on a three-year wage deal on Monday.

Transnet said it had started to implement recovery plans across its freight rail and port operations.

The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) members who were on strike returned to work on Thursday, with the wage deal between the union and Transnet still pending.