Truckload attacks cost the economy

Truckload attacks cost the economy

On Sunday, Overland Freight Association CEO Gavin Kelly painted a sobering picture of the toll on the logistics industry caused by repeated attacks on trucks carrying goods on South African roads.

His statement followed the burning of six trucks on the N3 in KwaZulu-Natal in the early hours of Sunday.

It was one of two incidents this weekend of what appeared to be coordinated attacks on trucks.

Estimated losses from these attacks on assets and goods run into the millions of rand.

The impact on business is significant and even more catastrophic for small businesses, which do not have the means to absorb the financial onslaught.

Likewise, the damaging impact of these incidents is massive, not only for the logistics industry but for our economy more broadly.

No less than 7,000 containers are delivered through our ports daily.

Truck sabotage on highways undermines our logistics value chain, thus undermining our ability, reliability and credibility as a business partner in the global market.

So it is incomprehensible that our law enforcement and intelligence agencies seem to be reactive and behind the curve in dealing with this kind of economic sabotage.

While it cannot yet be said who is behind the attacks, they are taking place against a backdrop of growing tensions over the employment of foreigners as truck drivers in the country.

The Implementation Plan signed a year ago has been described by industry bodies and government as a necessary intervention to ensure that foreign nationals who arrive to work in this industry are only those who comply with our immigration and labor laws.

That plan appears never to have been acted upon, and the body representing truck drivers has vowed to step up its protest against what it says is the unfair and widespread recruitment of foreigners.

Government and industry bodies are committed to ensuring that our labor laws are adhered to and that employers cannot engage in unfair and discriminatory labor practices in order to maximize profits.

That the needle has not moved a year later indicates a lack of leadership and willingness to tackle an issue that poses a growing threat to our already troubled economy.

The government must urgently deal with labor compliance issues, which are said to be at the heart of the row.

Likewise, our law enforcement cannot be caught snoozing on acts of bullying that unfold on our highways.

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