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Some of the trucks forced off the road near Steelpoort this past week
Trucks entering the Kingdom of eSwatini from Sunday are expected to be stopped after the nationwide disruption of truck traffic.
The disruption spilled into the Lowveld this past weekend, when at least 300 trucks were “confiscated” by the All Truck Drivers Foundation (ATDF).
ATDF prevented drivers of several Lowveld trucking companies from conducting their work on Friday, and continued to do so until Monday morning, reports the Corridor Gazette.
According to a flyer handed to truck drivers, ATDF is threatening further strike action from this coming Sunday.
No reference is made to the strategic Lebombo Border Post between South Africa and Mozambique.
This will make the eight ports of entry into the Kingdom of eSwatini inaccessible: these are the Ngwenya, Matsamo, Mahamba, Lavumisa, Sicunusa, Mananga, Sandlane and Bulembu border posts.
The organisation warned that there would be no movement, locally or long distance, of light or heavy-duty trucks nationally, and no trucks from neighbouring countries would be allowed to enter or leave South Africa.
A senior representative from a prominent Lowveld trucking company, who requested anonymity out of fear of being victimised, said drivers were pulled over and forced to drive to a truck stop about one kilometre from the Dwarsrivier Chrome Mine in Steelpoort.
“Their identity documents were checked to verify they were South African before they were herded into the truck stop where they were held until yesterday morning. As far as I can tell, there were no injuries reported and about 319 trucks were detained at the stop.”
ATDF’s grievances include the alleged “wrongful” employment of foreign nationals by South African trucking companies. They also claim South African truck drivers are subjected to humiliation, exploitation and poor salaries by trucking companies.
According to the truck owners, the detention of the drivers holds severe implications for the economy. Industry representatives, fearing attacks on their drivers, said it was tantamount to hijacking.
“Over the years, we have employed about five or six foreign nationals who have become like family,” the source continued. “They also have families to support. We cannot just let them go, especially considering that the ATDF is not even registered with the Bargaining Council.
“We also conduct a high volume of cross-border transportation of goods to neighbouring countries. What happens a few years down the line when South African drivers have to drive across the border and are attacked in those countries?
“We have received reports from the Northern and Eastern Cape that drivers were forced off the roads and escorted to a number of truck stops, asked for their documents and coerced into signing membership forms with ATDF, even though many of them already belong to registered, recognised unions.
“A nationwide strike has serious economic implications for South Africa and will deal a significant blow to trade relations between South Africa and the countries to and from which we transport goods every day.”
The trucks were released from about 11:00 yesterday morning as trucking companies and ATDF continued talks over their demands.
When asked how the SAPS planned to deal with the impending strike, Mpumalanga police spokesman Brig Leonard Hlathi said a task team had been appointed.
“However, I am not in a position to talk about the content of the plan.”
Attempts to reach ATDF representatives for comment were unsuccessful at the time of going to press.Source: Corridor Gazette
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