The N3 Toll Route at Van Reenen Pass has reopened to traffic after a group of gunmen torched six trucks in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Thania Dogra, a spokeswoman for the N3 Toll Concession, said the southbound lanes on the Van Reenen Pass were opened on Sunday, to accommodate both directions of traffic using the uninterrupted flow.
However, the motorway heading north towards Johannesburg will remain closed until repairs are completed. Motorists have been urged to avoid the area, as there are heavy traffic delays.
Police spokesman Brigadier Jay Necker said a gang of armed men forced six truck drivers to stop at Van Rienen Pass.
“Then they set fire to all six trucks, which closed the road to traffic,” he said.
No injuries were reported and the motive behind the attack is still unknown. Necker was unable to confirm reports that shots were fired at the scene.
Necker said investigators are investigating a case of malicious property damage and that a large police deployment including a public order police unit has been monitoring the situation.
Well coordinated attack
In a statement from the Road Freight Association, the association’s CEO, Gavin Kelly, described the events as a well-orchestrated attack on the road freight sector.
“Both the exact location in the N3 and the timing were chosen to achieve the best result in terms of chaos and disorder,” the statement read.
The road freight sector carries 80% of the freight transported in and around South Africa.
Attacks on the road portion of logistics supply chains could have severe consequences, including job losses as trade moves away from South Africa.
“The spectacle that unfolded at the N3 at Van Reenen’s Pass in the early hours of July 9, 2023 was a ruthless attack on the road freight supply chain – and the implications (economic, business confidence, security, law and order, corridor traffic) are far-reaching,” Kelly said.
He said immediate short-term losses could be millions of rand, including the cost of vehicles, goods and personal effects, road damage, EMS response, delays in movement and freight fines.
The long term impact will be seen in terms of increased security costs in the cost of logistics, higher insurance premiums, higher fees, less freight traffic through South Africa, shipping companies closing and job losses.
No looting of vehicles occurred and none of the drivers or employees in the vehicles were injured, according to the Overland Freight Association.
It called for arrests and action against those responsible for the attack.
“The targeted accuracy of the attack is worrying. This was well planned and executed efficiently. At this point, no group has admitted responsibility,” Kelly said.
It is not clear if specific companies were targeted and attacked, or if the trucks were chosen at random.
Read more at The Daily Maverick: 54 people are in court after 35 trucks were damaged in the violent N3 protest
Road blockades and trucks being set on fire on the N3 are not a new phenomenon in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. for at least the past five years, hundreds A number of trucks were set on fire, which appears to be linked to protests by South Sudanese drivers demanding jobs. DM