Truck wars take toll on regional logistics

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Johannesburg – Blood has been shed and goods worth millions of US dollars have been torched or stolen as the South African road freight industry has become a battlefield.

For weeks now, mobs have been attacking truckers, reportedly to protest the hiring of foreign drivers ahead of South Africans. At least one driver has been killed and several injured in the attacks. Several trucks have been torched.

The All Truck Drivers Foundation (ATDF), a grouping of South African truckers advocating for 100 percent employment of locals, has distanced itself from the attacks.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has said the attacks are causing economic devastation as countries try to rebuild after taking a battering from COVID-19.

South Africa is the continent’s second biggest economy and accounts for the largest chunk of Southern Africa’s imports and exports Transport and logistics disruptions in South Africa affect the entire region.

Authorities in Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe have all issued alerts to cross-border truckers from those countries to exercise caution.

President Ramaphosa this week said, “As South Africans, we cannot possibly tolerate the mindless and bloody lawlessness with which the road freight industry is being targeted. We cannot tolerate this loss of life and destruction of property.”

Over the past week, 25 trucks have been petrol-bombed, shot at or stoned across the country.

The government has been under pressure from the Road Freight Association (RFA) to take action that stops further losses of lives and money. Several arrests have been made but the attacks continue.

RFA technical operations manager Gavin Kelly said, “The departments of Home Affairs and Labour need to exercise their mandate to ensure the laws of the country are complied with. The South African Police Service needs to gather intelligence, identify those who incite violence and investigate and prosecute those who do. This needs to end now.”

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