South Africa will enjoy the largest fuel price decreases on record at the start of April 2020, while the country is in lockdown over the coronavirus, according to the Automobile Association.

"The crude oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia continues unabated, with demand for oil further suppressed as world economies retreat due to the coronavirus pandemic," the AA said, commenting on unaudited month-end fuel price data released by the Central Energy Fund.

The fuel price will be adjusted on 1 April 2020, while South Africa is still in lockdown over the COVID-19 outbreak.

"Not even the precipitous fall of the rand against the US dollar has been able to arrest the fuel price reductions, which are historic," the Association said in its statement.

The price of unleaded 95 petrol is set to drop by R2,18 a litre, with 93 set to decrease by R2,05 a litre. Both grades of diesel are expected to fall by around R1,65 per litre, with illuminating paraffin down R1,98 a litre.

"In practice, all these drops will be slightly less, due to the 16-cent increase in the fuel levy, and nine-cent increase in the RAF levy," the AA pointed out.

Notwithstanding the addition of 25 cents for the adjusted fuel levies, the expected decreases will bring South Africa’s fuel prices to levels last seen in late 2017 and early 2018.

"It is unfortunate that these massive reductions are coming at a time where private motoring is severely curtailed, but we would remind motorists that in terms of the lockdown regulations, they are still allowed to fill up their vehicles," the AA said.

Still, the Association said it called on motorists to "drive only when necessary in terms of the lockdown regulations, and to abide by all traffic laws".

In addition, the AA noted the fuel-price drops would provide "much relief" to road haulage operators, and offset some of the economic damage resulting from the lockdown.

"We hope that, at this difficult time, companies that benefit will pass these savings back to consumers," the AA said.

Separately, the AA announced it would provide emergency battery assistance for healthcare workers at no charge during the lockdown period.

"It is critical that doctors and nurses are not inconvenienced by faulty vehicle batteries either on their way to hospital to treat patients, or after a long shift tending to the sick. We will offer free battery checks and jump-starts to these healthcare workers; they can call 0861 000 234 if they need us," said the AA.