The N3 and N2 routes through the KwaZulu-Natal province have been targeted by groups allegedly protesting the recent events relating to the previous President and his imprisonment. The “protests”, as they are now termed, have hit the routes and the ire of the groups has been focused on trucks passing along these routes.
So far – according to reports – more than 30 trucks have been destroyed (either wholly burnt out or very badly damaged), whilst sections of the N3 near Mooi River are still being cleared up in an attempt to get some traffic flowing.
Why is trucking being targeted? Why should those who have nothing to do with either aggrieved party and who are just trying to ply their business (whether owners or employees), be subjected to such violence and common thuggery?
We have small business owners who most probably have lost everything – their business, their vehicles, as well as the loads they were carrying. Their employees could very well face the ogre of unemployment. This, through no fault of their own – but solely due to the wanton and indiscriminate destruction by protestors.
The effects on the freight industry are reverberating far past Mooi River. There are companies that may well now be closed. For ever. There are cargo owners (people who pay transporters to move their goods) who are now looking at alternative routes – through Namibia, Angola, Mozambique and even further north.
We have lost the Gateway to Africa status we once held. We are losing more and more transit freight through the country. Some transporters are looking at changing routes, and this affects many small economies along the route: from fuel to refreshments, support and security, whilst others are looking at getting out of a business that only brings tears and more tears.
Thank goodness we have not had any serious injuries or deaths to our employees this time round. But when will it stop?
Damages are not only related to the cost of replacing vehicles, cargoes, equipment and the road infrastructure that is destroyed. Yes , these easily run into the millions of Rand. The cost to employees (in losing their jobs as companies close operations), the loss of income for their families and the support network they provide (food, housing, clothing, education, health) and the impact that this violence has on the communities they originate and live in, is almost impossible to calculate.
Jobs lost. Income lost. Survival support lost.
South Africa’s image as a safe, secure, efficient and desirable destination for trade, manufacturing, investment and development, is gone. We will never recover from what we have done to ourselves here.
The attacks on the freight industry are uncalled for. They are malicious and without cause for concern on what the far-reaching effects on the livelihoods of all South Africans will be.
These trucks are carrying the food, medicines, oxygen, essentials, as well as all the luxury goods that everyone either desperately needs for survival – or are part of the development of a better life for all. That dream is gone – UNLESS we stop this NOW!
The President needs to ensure that the violence is stopped, that those that are responsible are held accountable, that the rule of law is shown to be firmly in place and that the safety and security of South Africa and its people is ensured.
We would urge that it is time to bring tighter controls in the areas where the protests are raging, that there needs to be more dedicated use of the SA Police Service (SAPS) in ensuring these areas are brought under control and managed. The opportunistic crime needs to be stopped – but the blatant incitement of violence and the destruction of the economy and well-being of all citizens needs to stop. Now.
We call on the Minister of Police, Minister of Transport and the President to put together an effective plan to stop these actions aimed at destroying our democracy, our economy and our fledgling new businesses that have had to endure so much under Covid.
By Gavin Kelly – Chief Executive Officer: The Road Freight Association
The Road Freight Association
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