THE cross border transport of essential goods and services into Namibia puts the lives of truck drivers in peril due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, and to address issues of possible transmission of coronavirus from these high risk workers, the Namibian Police force has stated that points need to be erected where truck drivers access basic needs such as food and the use of amenities.
This was revealed at a press conference called together by the Inspector General of the Namibian Police Force, Lieutenant General Sebastian Ndeitunga in conjunction with the Namibian Logistics Association which represents a coterie of companies in the logistics industry.
Speaking at the briefing, General Ndeitunga stated that the ministry of land and rural development was supposed to basic points to identify spots where truck drivers can stop for basic services however they are yet to deliver on this.
He added Namibian Police has received complaints from truck that drivers that there are maltreated and stigmatized In society and at border posts. “There are social media posts being circulated that truck drivers bring coronavirus into Namibia. These are dangerous narratives as these truck drivers may even be killed because of this, we are so easy to forget that these workers provide essential services,” Nditunga stated.
He added that incidents where truck drivers were refused by service station attendants to use toilets or too buy food were reported in towns such as Keetmanshoop and Otavi.
Representing the Namibia Logistics Association, Arnold Schmidt stated that he was shocked to learn that truck drivers approached the Namibian Police with labour issues rather than the line ministry.
Schmidt stated that after the State of Emergency regulations were implemented on account of the outbreak of the coronavirus, companies have had to adjust to the new rules.
“Yes some companies are not practising their best operational policies and everybody needs to move toward implementing these regulations. Rigid service level agreements must be maintained. There are some individuals who are using this situation to promote objectives which are not in line with our goal of economic survival,” Schmidt stated.
The association further shared that rumours that truck drivers are only paid per trip are also false adding that generally truck drivers earn between N$8 000 to N$15 000 per month with benefits such as pension and medical aid, dependent on the company.
Members of the association further stated that due to the coronavirus more cross border truck drivers find themselves quarantined in different countries for longer, which affects the revenue generated by these companies largely.
“We operate in 8 different SADC countries, when a truck is stationary, there is no income, the big threat is that we will run out of cross border drivers due to COVID-19” one of the logistic company owners bemoaned.
The association further voiced that from Ariamsvlei to Johannesburg, the highways remained highly unmonitored and that some truck drivers make unnecessary pit stops.
The association further voiced that truck drivers are forced to use the roadside as service stops where they tend to the trucks and to relieve themselves as well. “Trucks are parking all around Windhoek and Walvis Bay, where are the health inspectors in these towns,” another logistics company owner said.