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Truck drivers not a scarce skill in SA, says labour minister Thulas Nxesi

Van Reenen's Pass was opened for travel in both directions after KwaZulu-Natal police commissioner Lt-Gen Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi visited the area following a truck drivers' protest last week. File photo.
Van Reenen's Pass was opened for travel in both directions after KwaZulu-Natal police commissioner Lt-Gen Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi visited the area following a truck drivers' protest last week. File photo.
Image: SAPS

There is no shortage of skilled truck drivers in the country, employment and labour minister Thulas Nxesi said on Monday.

He said this finding was made after inspections by the departments of employment and labour and home affairs. 

Nxesi was giving an update on issues in the trucking industry. This comes as tensions continue to rise among local truck drivers who have continued to block national roads, highlighting their dissatisfaction with what they have described as the high rate of the employment of foreign truck drivers in SA.

On Monday an update was given on the engagements of the road and freight interministerial committee, which consists of Nxesi, transport minister Fikile Mbalula, home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi and police minister Bheki Cele.

Presenting the report, Nxesi said while some operators have asserted that SA lacked skilled truck drivers, the inspections and law enforcement operations have found that truck driving was an abundant skill in SA and therefore not a scarce skill as purported by some operators.

“The department of home affairs reported they had conducted more than 21 joint multidisciplinary law enforcement operations and inspections to assess the extent of use of foreign and at times illegal truck drivers,” he said.

Nxesi said multidisciplinary and joint enforcement operations conducted across the country saw 213 arrests of foreign truck drivers found to be in contravention of immigration laws, with 19 of those in possession of fraudulent documentation.

He said the protests which have taken place in the form of blocking national roads have compromised the country’s economic activities and left the affected parts without access to services.

To deal with the grievances of the truck drivers, Nxesi said the committee has come up with a plan to address the concerns of drivers.

On Sunday and Monday morning, the interministerial committee met with concerned parties in the industry to come up with a solution to the grievances raised.

Nxesi said they have come up with an action plan, which comes from a culmination of a series of meetings held with the industry and will form part of a blueprint to be announced once approved by all parties.

The implementation plan consists of the following actions:  

  1. facilitating the appointment of the task team;
  2. enforcing visa requirements;
  3. consideration all foreign driving licences;
  4. registration and compliance with labour laws;
  5. registration of operators in terms of section 45 of the National Road Traffic Act;
  6. reviewing the traffic register number;
  7. reviewing cross-border road transport legislation;
  8. amending the national road traffic regulations;
  9. integrated joint multidisciplinary law enforcement operations;
  10. implementing a driver training programme; and
  11. consideration of the introduction of operating licences for the industry.

Nxesi said the parties at the meeting agreed unanimously with the elements of the implementation plan except for the Road Freight Association’s (RFA) misgivings regarding the introduction of operating licences.

Gavin Kelly, CEO of the RFA, reiterated its stance on that issue and told the briefing they did not support that resolution, as he said the organisation believed it was a move by a “clever someone” trying to capture the industry.

“We will not accept that,” he said.

Kelly emphasised the need for government to ensure that there is compliance with labour and transport laws in the trucking industry.

Each organisation participating in the process of implementing the plan will be represented by two delegates and monthly report meetings will be held by the committee to review the progress of actions being implemented.



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