Shell declares force majeure on fuel in South Africa

JOHANNESBURG Fri Oct 5, 2012 3:01am EDT

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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Shell (RDSa.L) has declared force majeure on fuel deliveries in South Africa's economic hub of Gauteng province, which includes Johannesburg and Pretoria, due to a two-week strike by more than 20,000 truck drivers, the company said on Friday.

"There is fuel available across the country so the issue is not fuel supply but the challenge is delivering it safely to our retail sites," Shell said in an emailed response to questions.

Force majeure allows the company and its customers to break contracts due to situations beyond their control and its invocation is a sign of the truckers' strike starting to bite in Africa's biggest economy, which is already under strain from a wave of wildcat walkouts by platinum, gold and iron ore miners.

Near the "platinum belt" city of Rustenburg, 120 km (70 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, hundreds of protesters barricaded streets with rocks and burning tyres on Friday close to a mine belonging to top producer Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) (AMSJ.J).

The unscheduled strikes also spread to manufacturing sector for the first time this week, with workers at Toyota's Durban car plant downing tools on Monday to demand higher pay. The strike was resolved on Thursday, with unions saying workers had received a 5.4 percent pay hike.

"As far as I know the guys have been pitching up for work and production has restarted," Toyota SA spokesman Leo Kok said.

(Reporting by Agnieszka Flak; Editing by Ed Cropley)

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