Trucking sector faces another knock as Transport Minister Chikunga says its economic sabotage

Minister for the Department of Transport Sindisiwe Chikunga yesterday expressed grave concern over the torching of trucks on South African roads in recent weeks.

Minister for the Department of Transport Sindisiwe Chikunga yesterday expressed grave concern over the torching of trucks on South African roads in recent weeks.

Published Jul 12, 2023


The trucking industry has suffered another blow after two more trucks were set alight on the N2 highway in Empangeni, KwaZulu-Natal, on Monday night.

Yesterday, Department of Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga said the torchings amounted to economic sabotage.

This after a number of trucks were torched over the weekend.

In a statement yesterday, Chikunga expressed grave concern at the torching of trucks on South African roads in recent weeks.

“This is criminality that will not be tolerated,” he said. “These criminals are committing an act of economic sabotage, which must attract the harshest penalties permissible in law.

“Our road network is the lifeblood of our economy and transports valuable cargo that keeps the wheels of our economy turning,” said Chikunga.

He said the ability of trucks to transport freight was an enabler of economic activity and trade with other markets, which was critical for the economy, as the road freight transports in excess of 80% of all local cargo.

The road traffic law enforcement authorities, working under the co-ordination of the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) continued to work closely with other law enforcement authorities to maintain maximum vigilance and bring perpetrators to book.

“The government has also provided a platform of engagement for any party aggrieved by working conditions in the road freight industry and progress is being made in addressing the issues on the table.

“The ministry continues to work as part of the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) to address the challenges facing the sector,” he said.

Police commissioner Fannie Masemola committed to getting to the bottom of the attacks in the next few weeks, saying road blocks would be mounted in major arteries.

Umhlathuze Municipality mayor Xolani Ngwezi said the attacks were worsening the local economy, which had lost about R120 million in the last three years from the July unrest which destabilised business.

Transport utility Transnet said yesterday that it had not yet experienced disruptions or drops in cargo volumes as most of its goods came through rail, and that imports on-shore were catered for by clearing and forwarding agents situated close to the ports.

“The Durban terminals are experiencing normal truck flows currently. Generally, the terminals receive cargo via both rail and road,” a statement shared by the Durban terminals at the port said.

Business Leadership South Africa CEO Busisiwe Mavuso, speaking to media, stressed the importance of the commitment made by the government in June to support the agreed collaboration between the state and organised business on energy, transport and logistics, as well as crime and corruption.

In a statement, the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) said employers needed to work with labour on the issue, not wishing to speculate on what could be the reason in attacking trucks.

“The employer needs to start prioritising South Africans in the freight industry. We have been very vocal against companies that are hiring illegal immigrants with no proper documents,” Satawu spokesperson Amanda Tshemese said.

“Burning of trucks is nothing new in this country. It has been happening for years now and the government is still failing to address this issue. Instead, it is getting out of control," she said.

Meanwhile, the Road Freight Logistics Task Team, tasked in 2021 with stamping out the debilitating burning of trucks on South Africa’s economic pathways, is to meet next week Wednesday on its regular monthly consultations to figure out the scourge, relying mostly on a report from the SAPS.

Director-general in the Department of Transport James Mlawua could not be reached for comment.

However, William Legkwati, the road freight sector co-ordinator at the SA Transport Workers Union, confirmed that the committee was only due to meet on July 19.

Lekgwati said labour had concerns about the welfare of its members in the sector who were facing the attacks and would take immediate action by writing to the relevant government departments and the police to intervene.