Truck drivers get vaccinated at Gauteng filling stations
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Pretoria - The Gauteng freight industry has taken vaccines to truck drivers at the R21 Engen filling stations between Pretoria and Kempton Park.
MEC for Public Transport and Roads Infrastructure Jacob Mamabolo led the multidisciplinary partnership between industry and government to take the vaccine to places of rest and service for the drivers who transport goods across the province.
Engen SA, Road Freight Association, Trucking Wellness and the National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight and Logistics Industry (NBCRFLI) all agreed that when trucks stop the economy stops, making it important to protect truck drivers against Covid-19.
True to form, drivers who were not already vaccinated stopped their trucks, registered to vaccinate and took their jabs immediately before sitting down for observation by health services personnel until getting back in their trucks and proceeding with their trips.
Mamabolo said the event was established to bring together the government and freight industry to tackle risk factors that currently confront the freight industry like Covid-19, attacks on trucks and invalid or expired drivers licences.
This saw the deployment of members of the Gauteng Policing Forum who engaged drivers about security on the roads and issues they may have encountered which posed a threat to the industry, and the deployment of Road Traffic Management Corporation officials who checked that truck drivers being vaccinated did not need extra assistance to get appointments to renew their licence cards through the recently launched Request a Slot Campaign.
Zimbabwean truck driver Edson Mutekeri said he stopped to receive his jab because he had learned about the launch of the pop-up vaccination station on the internet and felt it was important to take the vaccine because he made international trips regularly.
"I'm happy to take the vaccine because although people think we travel mostly by ourselves or in small groups, we are actually high-risk professionals because we interact with a lot of people at the border, truck stops where we take baths and the toll gates and filling stations where we exchange cards to make transactions."
Mamabolo said: "The first thing we are doing is to take the vaccine to the truck drivers to protect them against Covid-19.
"The second is that we are worried about the attacks on the trucking industry going into multi-billion rands in the form of delayed goods and also resulting in disinvestment.
"This is a sector that contributes immensely to the GDP. If we want to grow the economy and provide jobs this is the backbone we must protect.
"Thirdly we are promoting law enforcement in helping those who want to renew their licences. You can imagine when accidents happen and their licences are not in order, that also impacts insurance related claims but that could create difficulties."
Mamabolo said the government was working hard to fight Covid-19 and it needed to work just as hard to protect drivers on the roads and to also make efficient the processes and procedures of renewing drivers licences.