More trucks set alight as drivers threaten a nationwide strike

11 June 2019 - 12:47 By Orrin Singh and dan meyer
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Three trucks were torched at a depot in Balgowan, KwaZulu-Natal, on Monday night.
Three trucks were torched at a depot in Balgowan, KwaZulu-Natal, on Monday night.
Image: Supplied

At least three trucks were torched at a depot in Balgowan in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands, while another caught alight after its brakes failed at the Tugela Toll Plaza about 125km away on Monday night.

N3 Toll Concession commercial manager Con Roux confirmed the incidents but said they were not  related to the ongoing protests over the hiring of foreign nationals.

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"The incident in Balgowan was an unrelated incident and was more of an internal matter," he said.

Meanwhile, a looming national strike by truck drivers on July 18 could spell further disaster for the already ailing trucking fraternity.

In a widely circulated WhatsApp message, truck owners were warned that no trucks should operate on the day, which had been billed "Trucking Black Day".

The strike coincided with the appearance of leaders of the All Truck Drivers' Foundation (ATDF), who are set to appear in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on July 18.

This after Positive Freight Solutions Forum (PFSF), an employers' association, obtained an urgent court interdict to prevent the looting of trucks, harming of drivers and the burning of trucks.

The interdict was granted against those believed to be responsible: the ATDF, Sipho Zungu, Cele Khumbulani, Mncebe Sihle and Nkosenye Buthelezi.

The SA Transport and Allied Workers' Union (Satawu) has in the meantime slammed the government for entering into talks with what they labelled as an "illegitimate association".

Satawu condemned the burning of trucks and the loss of innocent lives as a result of these talks, in a statement on Monday.

"We are extremely worried that government in the form of the department of labour, home affairs and SA police service enter into talks with an illegitimate association while excluding registered trade unions and employers that are party to the National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight and Logistics Industry."

KZN premier Sihle Zikalala is expected to provide feedback early next week into the ongoing issue.

Meanwhile, an investigation is under way into the cause of a blaze that engulfed a solid- waste truck in Overport on Monday night.

Metro police spokesperson Parboo Sewpersad said the cause of the fire was unknown and that the incident was being investigated.

TimesLIVE understands that the incident could be related to an internal matter and not the recent wave of protests over the hiring of foreign nationals as drivers.

Law enforcement personnel have been on high alert after a spate of attacks on trucks, particularly along the N3 highway where motorists have been warned to avoid travelling after dark, if possible.

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula said last week that attacks on truckers were "clearly unacceptable" and called for law enforcement to be doubled on the N3 highway between Johannesburg and Durban.

"There is to be no terror on our roads," he said. "Such activities do not only terrorise the freight sector, but the general populace using our roads who are entitled to safe use, free of violence." 

He said attacks on public roads should be upgraded to a higher category of criminality, especially as the government has committed to resolve the legitimate concerns of local drivers.

"Acts of arson undermine the genuine concerns of industry players and perpetrators should face the full might of the law."

Yet another truck was engulfed in flames on Monday night on the N1 close to Paarl in the Western Cape but the blaze was contained with only minor damage to its cargo.

One of the rear brakes had become stuck and a rear tyre exploded, according to the Drakenstein Farm Watch.

The National Press Club is on Tuesday hosting a briefing on the impact of criminality on the road-freight industry and the cost to the economy.

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