S.Africa: Violent Black attacks on Trucks: Food prices likely to rise as violent attacks cripple trucking industry
Johannesburg – Prices of food and other commodities are likely to increase as a backlash from the ongoing attacks on trucks forces distributors to seek alternative logistics.
About 84 trucks have been burnt so far in protests by local truck drivers who are complaining of being marginalised in favour of foreign nationals.
The violent strike, which started almost six months ago, has claimed the life of one driver. Truck drivers embarked on a national shutdown to fight against the employment of foreigners in most sectors for a lower wage.
Economist Mike Schussler said the strike would lead to an increase in food prices and a jobs bloodbath.
“I know lots of these truck companies are getting more security, and the cost of transport in South Africa is going to increase.
“This will lead to hunger, and not only in South Africa but to other African countries, because 10% of our trucks go outside the border every week. This is a mess that creates fear. It is an attack on the economy,” Schussler said.
Schussler has called on the government to intervene because the industry creates jobs.
It’s good that they have released the statements but we want to see action.”
SA Long-Distance Truckers spokesperson Doreen van Rooyen said the violent attacks have had a negative impact on the logistic companies and as a result a lot of companies are closing down.
Like Schussler, Van Rooyen felt that the violent attacks on trucks would lead to an increase in food prices.
“Somewhere along the line cost must be recovered. And in the end the public will pay for it. Food prices will increase,” Van Rooyen added.
Trucking bodies also revealed this week that they had received retaliatory threats from logistic companies in neighbouring countries.
Van Rooyen said the attacks would result in South Africa nor being allowed to do business in neighbouring countries.
“We feel disgruntled because this is an unprotected strike, causing harm not only to the industry but to the economy,” Van Rooyen said. In response to violent truck attacks, logistics companies have had to beef up security.
Last weekend about 26 trucks were petrol-bombed across South Africa in 48 hours.
Truckers Association of South Africa president Mary Phadi condemned the arson attacks. “This is a serious concern because employees are in danger.
“This also affects the delivery of products. This also requires companies to beef up security and this costs money,” she warned.
Prestige Logistics owner Kura Sibanda said one of his trucks was torched on the N1 highway opposite Menlyn shopping centre in Pretoria.
“This is a truck that was worth R1.2 million and was generating about R200 000 a month,” Sibanda said.
He said two men driving a Toyota Conquest petrol-bombed the truck on Monday around 11am. “We were lucky that the driver survived.”
Following the attacks, Sibanda has had to hire a security company to escort his trucks.
Despite the attacks, some of the drivers are expected to carry on with their work.
As a result, truck drivers have decided to drive in convoys because they fear for their lives.
Driver Khumbulani Mkhize said: “I’m afraid. I was supposed to drive with my colleagues. We escorted each other just in case we got attacked.”
Mkhize said he had been on his way to deliver coal in Sasolburg when he got a puncture.
“I was supposed to drive behind my colleagues because we escort each other in case they attack us.
“Now my colleagues are far and I am still here trying to sort out the tyre.
“These people are forcing us to work despite the danger we are facing as drivers.
“But we have no choice because we have families and children to take care of,” he said.
All Truck Drivers Foundation general secretary Sifiso Nyathi said they had joined the strike because the government and freight companies “do not care about the industry”.
He said: “This is not our planned strike but we did a research and decided to join because no one cares about the truck industry.”
He added that most freight and logistics companies had employed foreigners, leaving South Africans jobless.
“If we can’t employ South Africans, it means the money is going out of the country. This shows that the government is not serious. If they mean business then they must call an ‘imbizo’ (a meeting) with other stakeholders in transport and come with a solution to this situation,” said Nyathi.
He slammed the government, saying they approached the Bargaining Council, the Department of Labour and Department of Transport three years ago, but there was still no solution.
“We are still expecting a solution and a change but the situation is becoming worse,” Nyathi said.
Earlier this week, the Road Freight Association appealed to President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene.
The departments of Labour, Home Affairs, Transport and State Security released a joint statement and vowed to act decisively. Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi warned that economic sabotage would not be tolerated.
He said: "These attacks are criminal acts, and the government has zero tolerance towards this economic sabotage.
“Government will not tolerate acts which disrupt business and in turn destroy livelihoods. We want to ensure that everyone’s rights are protected, including legal and undocumented migrant workers as per our Constitution.
“We acknowledge that people have lost lives in this and we appeal to everyone to work towards saving lives.”