“Stricter controls for enforcing South African driving permits on foreign drivers are long overdue, and government should have prioritised this a long time ago,” says Arnoux Maré, Managing Director of Innovative Learning Solutions (ILS).
“If South Africa is to curb our record high unemployment numbers, then it’s past time for government to implement decisive policies that demonstrate real commitment to solving South Africa’s economic challenges – such as low-hanging fruit in the transportation sector.”
This is in response to government’s announcement that it would be reviewing various policies with the aim of clamping down on foreign truck drivers operating illegally in the country.
Following recent protests against the hiring of foreign nationals as truckers, the Department of Employment and Labour, the Department of Police and the Department of Home Affairs have vowed to take a firmer stance against undocumented workers in South Africa’s transport industry. This includes harsher measures against companies found to be employing foreign drivers without the necessary permits.
Notably, the Department of Transport (DoT) also published an amendment to the Road Traffic Act in April which will make it illegal to drive a South African registered truck while using a foreign professional driving permit (PDP).
“It’s high time that government reviewed its migration and license policies, especially in sectors which are easy wins for local job creation, such as transportation. Additionally, undocumented truck drivers and drivers with fake licenses remain some of the greatest threats to safety on our roads, increasing the likelihood of accidents that place other drivers at risk,” notes Maré.
“But we also need to recognise that government can’t remedy the situation alone – businesses need to take more responsibility for investing in training their truck drivers. And where they fail, these businesses need to be held to stricter account.”
As the founder of ILS, he further notes that every transport company that employs a truck driver needs to ensure that they meet the necessary regulatory requirements. This means checking their drivers’ licenses, their qualifications, and that they hold Professional Driving Permits.
ILS is Africa’s largest training and testing centre, and offers professional, accredited training for local truck drivers to enhance their skills. The centre was founded in response to the shortage of suitably qualified truck drivers identified by sister company Innovative Staffing Solutions (ISS), a Human Capital and Facilities Management subcontractor that employs over 36,000 permanent staff. Of these, 7,000 employees are currently in the transportation sector.
However, Maré argues that the current shortage of truck drivers seen globally points to the need to safeguard local supply by investing in local skills.
“The question is not how many foreign drivers are currently being employed in South Africa’s transport industry but rather do we have enough skilled local drivers? And if not, why are we not investing more in developing our own truck drivers and our own talent pipeline?
“The failure to address the problem now could result in the same threat to supply chains as we’ve seen overseas. Consider the recent fuel crisis in the United Kingdom – those events have particularly served to highlight just how critical the role of truck drivers really is in ensuring that economies continue to function.
“By supporting government’s efforts by refusing to draw on undocumented or unqualified foreign drivers, South African businesses can also play a key part in creating safer roads, creating jobs, and enhancing supply chain security. Investing in professional local truck drivers is a quick win for all.”