“Free Jacob Zuma” protests hit the trucking industry
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DURBAN - THE road freight industry is calling on the government to stop the attacks on the trucking and logistics sector, which have led to millions of rand in losses.
A total of 38 trucks have been torched in various parts of the province, allegedly in conjunction with the “Free Jacob Zuma” campaign. The KwaZulu-Natal Transport Department said 28 trucks were torched in Mooi River, six on the N2 in Zululand, one each in uMgababa, Lidgetton and the R603. On Sunday a truck was set alight outside Dalton Hostel in Durban.
Road Freight Association chief executive Gavin Kelly said it was unacceptable that transporters, who were trying to get goods across the country, were targeted. “They are trying to keep the company going, trying to keep their employees going, but were attacked while moving goods. Whenever there are protests or service delivery protests, trucks are attacked because they are easy targets. They can also be looted and ransacked. We have to stop the attacks. Trucking contributes to the economy,” Kelly said.
“The effects on the freight industry are reverberating far past Mooi River. There are companies that may well now be closed forever. There are cargo owners who are now looking at alternative routes – through Namibia, Angola, Mozambique and even further north … We will never recover from what we have done to ourselves here.”
On Sunday, Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Neliswa Peggy Nkonyeni and Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs MEC Ravi Pillay assessed the extent of the damage to property. Mooi River was the worst affected. At least 28 trucks were torched at the Mooi River Toll Plaza, while six shops were looted in the town on Saturday.
The premier’s spokesperson, Lennox Mabaso, said damage to private and public property amounted to about R100 million.
“With KwaZulu-Natal having two strategic ports, this disruption is likely to have a negative economic impact on other parts of the country,” he said.
Mabaso said more than 37 people had been arrested in the province for activities related to the protests.
He added that a multi-pronged response plan has been developed, which included high police visibility in hot spots and engaging with affected stakeholders, including business and transport stakeholders.
Arnoux Maré, chief executive of Innovative Staffing Solutions, said his team has been working around the clock and patrolling the N3 to ensure trucks and drivers were safe.
“The trucking industry is in a ‘catch-22’ situation on whether to continue or not. It is an industry that cannot stop. We have helicopters that go ahead of fleets to check for danger. We also have armed escorts.
“The impact will have a knock-on effect on the consumer,” Maré said.