Blocking national roads is organised crime and economic sabotage, says Thulas Nxesi

Nxesi highlighted that South Africa is not immune to international migration trends, as well as political attempts to exploit them.

Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi has urged police to act speedily and arrest disgruntled truck drivers who often block national highways. File picture: Leon Lestrade

Nxesi highlighted that South Africa is not immune to international migration trends, as well as political attempts to exploit them.

Pretoria – Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi has expressed unhappiness over the blockage of national roads by people conveying demands relating to their working conditions, the employment of foreign nationals in South Africa and professional driving permits.

“This propaganda being witnessed by the trucking industry must be stopped and treated as the sabotage and staged crime that it is. It intends to cause disorder that the country does not require. What the truck drivers are doing is an affront to the entire South African community and should not be taken lightly,” said Nxesi.

“These types of acts also result in the loss of life. The lives lost are far more important than any economic sabotage.”

He said President Cyril Ramaphosa had mandated an inter-ministerial committee, led by himself and also including Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula and Minister of Home Affairs Aaron, as well as affected stakeholders, to address the concerns raised by truck drivers and small truck operators.

The committee has been working hard to address these issues, holding a number of consultations with stakeholders such as truck driver representatives and small truck operators.

“In addressing these issues, we were and continue to be mindful of the economic impact of any disruption to supply chains and freight logistics throughout the country and the SADC (Southern African Development Community) region. As a result, we have made a firm commitment to address these issues in a way that ensures the long-term viability of our interventions,” said Nxesi.

“We have since mentioned that some of these interventions may necessitate a longer runway due to legislative changes.”

On Thursday, IOL reported that angry truck drivers had blocked the N3 near Van Reenen’s Pass, causing major traffic back-ups either side of the national highway.

The N3 Toll Concession (N3TC) warned motorists not to use the route if possible and if they could, to delay travel.

According to the N3TC, trucks are obstructing the road in both directions on Van Reenen’s Pass.

“Law enforcement authorities are on scene,” it said on Thursday.

“In KwaZulu-Natal, the Road Traffic Inspectorate (RTI) is currently directing northbound traffic off the N3 at the Colenso/Frere interchange. N3TC recommends that road users delay their trips to the area. Heavy traffic congestion and delays may be experienced in both directions on the N3 Toll Route.”

Nxesi said South Africa in February formulated a comprehensive National Labour Migration Policy (NLMP), which seeks to implement best practices in the management of immigration and the need for employment in the country.

“Extensive research and an international benchmarking process were used to inform this process, which sought policy based on best practices. As a result, it is clear that, in order to effectively manage the rapid expansion of international migration flows, South Africa must develop an appropriate policy,” said Nxesi.

He however highlighted that South Africa is not immune to international migration trends, as well as political attempts to exploit them.

Nxesi also urged employers to avoid hiring and exploiting foreign truck drivers.

With the numerous interventions by government, Nxesi said it was inappropriate for South African truck drivers to imply or create the impression that the department of employment and labour and the government as a whole had done nothing to address their concerns.

“We will not tolerate lawlessness in the form of road blocking, which not only stifles economic activity but also jeopardises the rights of others to use the roads. We urge law enforcement to not be afraid to unleash the full force of the law on those who use illegal means to express their grievances while undermining the rights of others,” said Nxesi.

“The ministry of police is urged to issue a strong warning to all perpetrators and drivers who have been complicit in this activity by allowing the law to take its course. Arrest the perpetrators of this sabotage, criminal activity, and organised crime.”

He said the lawlessness on the national highways could not be tolerated.

“We can no longer remain silent while truck drivers continue to wreak destruction as if nothing has been done,” he said.

IOL

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