Co-operative a game changer in the petrol service industry

LOOKING AHEAD: From left, Bongani Vakele from the South African Petrol Service Stations Primary Co-operative with Leslie Fischer, manager at Frontier Caltex and Bell Motors and Thandiwe Kutane, a petrol attendant at Caltex Picture: NTSIKELELO QOYO

In a first of its kind, vehicle owners are getting into ownership with the petrol stations they frequent to fill up their vehicles.

Businesses and private vehicle owners have joined a co-operative called South African Petrol Service Stations Primary Co-operative which plans to have them paid for filling up.

The idea is the brainchild of Bongani Vakele who said black people had been locked out of industries when they comprised the bulk of the market the businesses served.

“The consumers at petrol stations must strive to move away from just buying to owning. Our buying power is our leverage in this industry,” said Vakele.

The co-operative organises vehicle owners to purchase together at service stations that have committed to offer rebates in the form of paybacks to the co-op which will be distributed or re-invested. The service stations that have joined have committed different payback amounts for different quantities of fuel purchased by the members.

Vakele said they were planning to operate throughout the Eastern Cape with service stations in Cofimvaba, Butterworth, Mthatha and East London having already come on board.

He added that the potential for the co-operative was to move past profit-sharing to investment, which could lead to employment opportunities.

Leslie Fischer, manager at Frontier Caltex and Bell Motors, said they were excited about the prospects of the partnership.

“The project will assist our business but it will also help other people in Komani to get involved in the industry. As a company we believe in empowering other people and assisting where we can,” said Fischer.

Nehawu provincial secretary, Minki Jaceni, said their union supported the new co-operative it was an idea to unlock an industry previously out of the reach of many.

“Co-operatives are things we unions always try to endorse and support. This idea is a great one. We have always supported a farming co-operative at Fort Hare University that was closed because of a lack of skills, knowledge and expertise. This is an idea that wants to move us from being excluded from ownership of the economy,” said Jaceni.

Amahlubi chief Mzikabawo Luzi from Butterworth who endorsed the co-operative said this was an opportunity to tackle youth unemployment.

“We see this as a vehicle that can tackle poverty in general. We have many youths who leave the villages because there are no employment prospects,” he said.

 

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