Fiery truck attacks could see companies shunning Durban

11 June 2019 - 14:49
By Ernest Mabuza
A spate of truck attacks on the N3 could push SA's trading partners away from Durban's port.
Image: Supplied A spate of truck attacks on the N3 could push SA's trading partners away from Durban's port.

SA's trading partners might shun Durban and use other ports to export their products if truck attacks on the N3 highway continue unabated.

Economist Mike Schüssler made this comment during a media briefing hosted by the National Press Club in Pretoria on the criminality in the road-freight industry.

The N3 links Durban and Johannesburg, and is the key route into and out of the harbour.

The Road Freight Association said recently that an onslaught against companies employing foreign truck drivers has left dozens dead or injured, and caused R1.2bn in damage to trucks and cargo.

Schussler said Zimbabwe and Zambia, which use the Durban port for their exports, might consider using Beira in Mozambique more often. A port in Namibia, Walvis Bay, might be also be considered by neighbours such as Botswana.

"The port of Durban could lose out to other ports," Schüssler said.

Schüssler said the inland provinces were reliant on the N3 for almost all products they received from the Durban port. The port was also vital for the country's exports.

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He said that although the attacks were apparently aimed at foreigners, many people who were killed or injured were South Africans.

Schüssler said the attacks on foreign workers seem misguided as some of these nationals, such as Zimbabweans, were lawfully allowed to work in SA without a work permit.

Schüssler said police had no idea how to handle attacks on trucks and drivers.

"This is a critical industry for SA. It is as critical as electricity."

Schüssler added that the attacks on foreign truckers would worsen SA's relations with other African countries, where it had a market for its finished products.

Elka du Piesanie, a bureau operations manager at insurance company Hollard, said the company had seen an increase in claims related to protests in the past six months.

Between November and May this year, Hollard - which insures 16,500 trucks - received R237m in claims.

She said of the 5,030 claims during this period, 52 related to damage incurred during protest action, which constituted 11% of all claims during the period.

The 52 claims amounted to R27.3m out of the total R237m claimed from Hollard in the past six months.