Trucks burnt on N3, major Gauteng-KZN route shut in both directions
Several trucks were burnt by protesting truck drivers on the N3 freeway near Mooi River, forcing its closure for several hours on Thursday, 28 March 2019. Both the Durban-bound and Johannesburg-bound lanes were affected, according to a traffic official, who did want to be named. It is understood that a number of trucks had been set alight. This follows the mayhem that erupted on Sunday when another truck protest along the N3 also brought traffic to a standstill. That incident was strongly condemned by transport minister Blade Nzimande. It is understood that truckers were protesting over working conditions and the employment of foreign drivers.
The exact nature of the latest protest action is not known at this stage.
The N3 Toll Concession tweeted on Thursday that traffic had been diverted near Mooi River because of protest action.
Truck owners want clear and visible policing along the N3 route and will table this demand to government ministers during an emergency meeting to be held in Durban. The meeting aims to address the burning of trucks along the N3. It was called after seven trucks and their cargo were burned in Hidcote, outside Mooi River, on Thursday last week.
Police Minister Bheki Cele’s spokesperson, Reneilwe Serero, said Cele would “definitely be part of the meeting”. Ministers and officials from the departments of Home Affairs, Trade and Industry and Justice were also expected to be part of the meeting.
Positive Freight Solution Forum, which represents about 3 000 truck owners across the country, said it had called for the meeting as the burning of trucks was a serious concern and was threatening the survival of their businesses and the economy.
The Mooi River area has been a hot spot for the burning of trucks, last year more than 20 trucks were burned near the toll gate. About two weeks ago, three trucks were torched near the Hilton area. The attacks have allegedly been motivated by the employment of foreigners as drivers. “We want security along the N3 and we want there to be visible policing. We want the government to come out and clearly condemn these attacks on our trucks. If our trucks stop working, a large part of the economy will take a hit,” said Aven Naidu, a representative of the forum.
Last week, truck owners had threatened that if there were no solid solutions from the government to address the matter, they would park their trucks off in protest. That, they said, could affect the economy as truckers collect about 5000 containers a day from the Durban harbour.
Naidu said they also wanted the Department of Home Affairs to address the issue of foreigners in the country and to deal with the perception that those employed to drive were illegal foreigners. “In the trucking industry, there are a substantial number of foreign drivers but these are not illegal immigrants or cheap labour. These are productive members of the community who are here legally and who are contributing to the country’s economy. The drivers who were attacked and assaulted last week were South Africans.
“The motives of those responsible for the attacks must be questioned because if they are attacking South Africans, who are they fighting for?”
Naidu said the violence was making a difficult situation untenable. “Everything is increasing, this violence is making running our business very difficult.”
Source: Times Live and The Mercury