Business leaders: truckers guilty of economic sabotage

An act of economic sabotage. This is how captains of industry and the government have described the blockade of the N3 route between Johannesburg and Durban.

Disgruntled truckers shut down the N3 in both directions at Van Reenen’s Pass and the Tugela Plaza in KwaZulu-Natal, disrupting supply chains and freight logistics between Gauteng and the main port.

The route, which is key to the movement of goods and services,  has increasingly become a battleground for dissatisfied truck drivers who are calling for reforms to the industry, including an end to the hiring of foreign truck drivers.

Business Unity SA (Busa) said it was worried that blockades of the N3 were becoming the norm.

“This is a recurring occurrence and Busa has consistently appealed to government to take proactive measures to stop such blockages and arrest those that are responsible,” Busa CEO Cas Coovadia said.

“It is very clear that our appeals have not been heeded and there appears to be no accountability in government for this, and we do not see any consequences for those perpetrating these acts.

“The economic impact of such blockages is obvious given that the N3 is a critical arterial [route] for the transport of essential and strategic goods between Johannesburg and Durban, and to areas like Richards Bay.”

The organisation said it would now seek a meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa to “raise our concerns and to get a commitment that this matter will be given the urgent attention it requires”.

South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) president Mtho Xulu said: “As Sacci we hold the principle that this is an economic
sabotage, which we strongly condemn as what is happening on N3 is bad.  Employers and employees need to take responsibility and be with honest with each other towards solving the problem that is there.

“The interruption that took place amounts to billions of rand as it affected human capital, minerals and other related matters as N3 is not just a road, but an economic route that contributes immensely to our economy. There are lost opportunities as investors will see this as  economic sabotage,” he said.

It is estimated that every day the value of goods transported on the N3 highway alone is  about R3-billion.

The Road Freight Association has already estimated that the current blockade has cost the economy  about R300-million.

Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi referred to the blockade as sabotage and crime.

“What the truck drivers are doing is an affront to the entire South African community and should not be taken lightly,” he said.

Ramaphosa assembled a ministerial task team in 2020 to investigate truck attacks.

In December last year, angry truckers blocked the N3 in Van Reenen. Twelve people were arrested.

Two months earlier, the N3 was also blocked.

In February last year, authorities advised motorists to avoid the N3 highway in Germiston, east of Johannesburg, as well as the N12 in the direction of
Emalahleni in Mpumalanga due to trucks blocking the road.

 

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