The KwaZulu-Natal government has secured commitments from freight owners with the aim of quelling attacks on trucks.
According to KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala, the government has reached agreements with various stakeholders in the freight industry to prioritize locals for employment. Truck owners have committed to providing at least 400 new jobs for South Africans.
Zikalala said they would soon mount an intensive operation, together with the national government, along the N2, N3, and N11 routes in KwaZulu-Natal in which drivers who do not have proper permits will be targeted.
“The engagements follow recent disturbances on our major national highways, where trucks were torched and drivers attacked in a long-standing dispute over the employment of foreign nationals in the trucking industry. We reached important commitments which we believe that if they are implemented successfully, will guarantee peace and stability in this all-important industry.
“In principle, we agreed that truck operators must, with immediate effect, prioritize the employment of South African drivers. Every foreign national who is currently driving a South African registered truck must be appropriately licensed and have a valid permit issued by the Department of Home Affairs.”
The province will engage the Department of Labour and Employment to manage the database of prospective drivers, which will be submitted by the driver associations, including the All Truck Drivers Foundation (ATDF) and the National Drivers’ Federation.
“The department will also verify the drivers’ database, ensuring clear criminal records and valid qualifications. We now have a firm commitment from the drivers that there will be no burning of trucks, blocking of any road or entry to the Port of Durban.
“At the same time, we expect the justice, crime prevention, and security cluster not to abandon their core responsibility to enforce the law without any hesitation wherever this is required. We agree that these are stop-gap measures,” Zikalala said.
Zikalala added that their long-term solution included effecting appropriate amendments to the law.
“Therefore, our proposals to national government include speeding up the review of the scarce skills policy to clarify the contentious question of the employment of foreign nationals in low-skill sectors.
“For this reason, we have escalated the matter to the national government as this is not only a KwaZulu-Natal matter, but it has implications for the entire SADC region. Our provincial government is fully committed to the transformation and stabilization of the road freight and logistics industry, which is a critical sector of the provincial and national economy.
“We will work together with all stakeholders as long as they are prepared to find a lasting solution to these current challenges. The task team that has been assigned the responsibility of addressing challenges in the road freight sector will meet weekly to receive reports on operations.
“We wish to reiterate that we will not allow lawlessness to threaten our economy and we have no doubt that all our key stakeholders will play their role in this regard,” added the premier.
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