Various national ministers and leaders of transport unions have signed an eleven-point action plan that will hopefully put a stop to repeated traffic disruptions on the N3.
This highway is the main artery connecting the Durban port to Gauteng, other northern provinces and South Africa’s neighbouring countries. It was blocked for the umpteenth time last week by protesting truck drivers.
In a statement issued yesterday (Monday, 20 June 2022), the South African government said that its inter-ministerial committee was formed to deal with the escalating road blockages and protests by disgruntled South African truck drivers who perceived the industry to favour foreign drivers over local employees.
“These protests and blockages have adverse impacts on mobility, scares foreign investors and, most importantly, have very negatively impacts on the economy and essential supply chains using affected corridors,” the statement said.
A meeting was subsequently called at the weekend with the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu), the industry Bargaining Council, the All Truck Drivers Alliance (ATDF) and the Transport Association of South Africa (Tasa), among others, to discuss and sign an agreement committing to the new action plan.
The inter-ministerial committee includes employment and labour minister Thulas Nxesi, transport minister Fikile Mbalula, police minister Bheki Cele and home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi.
Nxesi said during a press briefing that the meeting was a joint effort to mitigate the problems afflicting the industry and to find a solution.
He added that the action plan is a culmination of several meetings with industry role players and will form part of a more formalised blueprint soon to be announced.
The action plan
In short, the action plan includes addressing legal and labour issues around transport operators and the employment of illegal foreign drivers. It contains the following overarching points:
- facilitating the appointment of a task team;
- enforcement of VISA requirements;
- consideration of all foreign driving licences;
- registration and compliance with labour laws;
- registration of operators in term of Section 45 of the National Road Traffic Act (NRTA);
- a review of the traffic register number;
- a review of cross-border road transport legislation;
- amendment of the National Road Traffic Regulation;
- integrated joint multi-disciplinary law enforcement operations;
- implementation of a driver training programme; and
- consideration of the introduction of operating licences for the industry.
A task team, consisting of the directors-general of the four departments, is now tasked with conducting research work and plot a plan of action for the resolution of the challenges affecting the industry.
Organisations from the transport industry have since responded favourably to the plan. The Road Freight Association (RFA), whose CEO, Gavin Kelly, penned an open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa last week, said that it agreed with and supported the implementation plan.
“The RFA supports all efforts to stop the disruption of the logistics chain. The root causes have been identified, and the proposed implementation plan clearly identifies who, what, when and how these causes must be addressed (and resolved).”
A word of caution
Meanwhile, Mbalula urged truck drivers not to cause further disruptions. “It is now incumbent upon leaders of ATDF and others to ensure that their members adhere to the spirit of this compact and work tirelessly towards its implementation.
“Government will not tolerate any road blockades and the full might of the law will take effect.”
At the same time, Cele warned employers that they will now be arrested for employing illegal immigrants.
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