THE current national strike by the South African National Truck Drivers’ Foundation against the employment of foreign truck drivers and the transporting of good in that country has prompted Namibian truck organisations to send their drivers home until the situation is resolved.
The South African truck drivers have blocked entry points for any foreign truck drivers.
According to the Managing Director of Scania Namibia, Clifford Marehbank, the company has in the meantime called off its operations to South Africa for the safety of its employees. The strike, he says, will not only affect the company’s livelihood but also Namibia’s economy at large because of the reduced income.
“This will unfortunately affect us as it means a slower income and as a result impacts the country’s economy. What the South Africans are doing is not only crazy but preposterous. We are all working hard for our families and we’re all equally affected by the economic crisis. South African trucks also come here but we do not burn their trucks as they are currently doing. This is extremely unfair and a big loss to the transport industry,” Marehbank maintained.
He stressed disappointment in the South African government for doing nothing about the looting and burning that is ongoing. He also expressed concern on the Namibian government’s silence on the issue.
“These xenophobic attacks have been going on for months and nothing has been done about it and it is a shame,” Marehbank said.
While the Zambian government issued a stern warning to its truck drivers to avoid traveling to South Africa, Namibia, through the ministry of international relations, has to date not issued a statement on the matter.
The FP Du Toit Transport Chief Transport Officer, Heinch Schmidt, said that their company, on the other hand, has not put its operations on hold amidst the strike.
“We are operating as normal and are not affected as we have communication with the police that side. We also have operators in Johannesburg who monitor and keep 24-hour contact with our employees and we know exactly what is happening to them, where and when. The strike is, however, a blow to the SADC community as it affects all of us economically,” Schmidt said.
The company’s control rooms, he said, stay in contact with police officers on the right routes.
Media reports in South Africa have it that at least 20 people have been arrested in Durban in connection with the truck strike. They face charges of attempted murder and malicious damage to property. The drivers in different provinces have resorted to the torching and looting foreign-owned trucks.