At least two more trucks have been set alight on Wednesday, this time on the N2 just north of Sheepmoor in Mpumalanga, bringing the number of trucks and cargo destroyed in the last week to over 15, costing the economy in the region of R3 million or more with each vehicle.
Emergency services said the stretch of highway will be closed for most of the day between Ermelo and Piet Retief.
The latest incident brings the total number of trucks set alight to just over 15 since the weekend and hours before police management briefed the nation on their response to the violent attacks on freight trucks in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Gauteng.
The first trucks were burnt on KZN’s N3 highway on Sunday, which was incidentally, the second anniversary of the July 2021 riots.
Commenting on the recent attacks, Road Freight Association CEO Gavin Kelly said the road freight sector carries 80 percent of the goods that are moved in and around South Africa, as well as for those countries that trade with international markets and use the country’s ports for import and export.
The Road Freight Association (RFA) said that destruction would negatively affect the country in the long-term.
"Those who attack the road leg of logistics supply chains need to understand that the long-term effects will bring greater destruction to employment levels, and will result in further job losses, as businesses and supporting sectors shrink and trade moves away from South Africa," Kelly added.
N2— Road Angels Traffic Information (@Road_Angels_SA) July 12, 2023
Piet Retief/ Ermelo
4 trucks on fire. N2 will be closed for most of today between Ermelo and Piet Retief. Alternative route is via Amsterdam.
*Road Angels Traffic Info* pic.twitter.com/PIV2ahKHhx
Kelly explained that depending on the category of vehicle, the type and value of cargo, the specialised equipment required for the cargo, it can be anywhere between R3 million to R10m.
“A simple calculation of capital losses - assets and cargo - of the six trucks destroyed at Van Reenen, to date amounts to anything between R18 to R60 million.
“The cost of loss of income through businesses closing is far greater: If any of the trucks belonged to a small business – it will have lost its only truck, or trucks: This means loss of earnings and or revenue for the business, loss of salaries paid to staff who would no longer have jobs due to business shutdown and loss of revenue through the services and support the business uses,” he said.
Kelly added that potential closure of businesses means less transporters available to perform work. Some companies might feel the industry is not a safe or secure environment and so their owners could decide to simply close their business.
Kelly said if this is the same grouping that has been behind such attacks across the country over the past six years, then action needs to be taken against those who promote, plan and implement such criminal actions.
"We have heard the minister of police refer to economic sabotage and many other forms of description, but it would seem that this behaviour continues unabated," he said.