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Blocking the N3 ‘tantamount to economic sabotage’: Ramaphosa on truck driver protest

President to attend cabinet meeting on rise in Covid-19 infections

08 December 2021 - 13:03
President Cyril Ramaphosa said truck drivers who block highways during protests must be arrested. REUTERS
President Cyril Ramaphosa said truck drivers who block highways during protests must be arrested. REUTERS

One of the first things President Cyril Ramaphosa planned to address on Wednesday, after returning from his West Africa tour, was the truck drivers’ protest.

“It is one of the number one issues I am going to deal with when I come back home ,” Ramaphosa said in an interview at Gorée Island in Senegal on Tuesday afternoon.

TimesLIVE reported previously that 12 truck drivers were arrested in connection with a protest that severely disrupted traffic on the key N3 corridor between Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

The highway was fully reopened on Saturday after truck drivers barricaded the toll route from 3am on Friday, causing major disruptions at Van Reenen’s Pass. Truck operators said government’s alleged failure to provide feedback on the employment of foreign drivers had ignited the protest action.

The drivers, who were expected to appear in the Ladysmith magistrate’s court on Monday, were charged with contravention of the Criminal Law Amendment Act and the Road Traffic Act.

Ramaphosa said blocking the N3 was completely unacceptable.

“To go commit sabotage like that on a major artery of our economy is tantamount, as far as I am concerned, to economic sabotage.

“It’s an act that we are going to be coming down on heavily. We can’t continue to allow such a situation. It happened while I was here, and a clear instruction is that road needs to be cleared and those who are responsible should be arrested so law and order becomes the order of the day.”

Ramaphosa acknowledged there was a group of people disgruntled about the continued employment of foreign nationals.

“The ministers have been in discussion and have even set up an interministerial committee to address that from all points of view.”

Ramaphosa said the ministers would report back to him so government could decide how best to resolve the matter.

“Obviously the truckers want quick answers. They want answers on issues that are of great concern to them. We are addressing that to avoid a situation like what we saw recently, because it is completely unacceptable,” he said. 

The president also said he would attend a cabinet meeting on Wednesday to discuss issues, including how government was going to manage the increasing number of Covid-19 infections.

“The national coronavirus command council needs to meet before it makes recommendations to cabinet on how we should continue responding to the coronavirus.

“All that will be given due consideration once we are back in SA and receive a report from our health department and minister, as well as our national joint entity which looks at a whole range of issues before we are able to act in any way.”

He said any announcement relating to regulations would be preceded by a meeting of the presidential co-ordinating council, which includes premiers and metro mayors.

“Whatever measure we take will be properly considered by everyone affected,” he said.



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