Small operators become victims of truckers strike
ENTREPRENEURS who operate in the transport sector have become the unintended victims of the ongoing violent truck drivers strike.
Striking truck drivers, who are demanding salary increases of 12%, have been attacking truck drivers randomly without verifying their status.
Many private companies and the government have over the years outsourced transportation of goods to small companies.
The current salary impasse has no bearing on small transport businesses, but they are greatly affected.
Talks to reach a settlement between unions and the Road Freight Employers Association deadlocked yesterday.
The employers are offering workers 8.5% and the unions are sticking to their demand of 12%.
The stalemate could lead to the escalation of violence and small operators would still be caught in the crossfire.
Entrepreneur Pakiso Gumbi's company, PYG, owns two trucks that transport manganese from Northern Cape to Durban. PYG is sub-contracted to KWS Carriers, which has a direct contract with a Northern Cape mine.
A fuming Gumbi said both his trucks were damaged by vandals linked to the strike while en route to Durban.
He said KWS threatened to fine his company R50,000 for failing to make a delivery and he therefore had to dispatch his trucks.
Sowetan has seen a copy of an e-mail in which KWS Carriers' Marthinus Pretorius orders his subordinate to penalise Gumbi.
"Arrange that a KWS truck fetch the trailer, then charge PYG a R50,000 penalty for not delivering the load," Pretorius wrote in the e-mail.
Efforts to reach KWS yesterday were unsuccessful.
Gumbi said the insurance company that PYG's trucks are insured with, has notified him that as the damage to his vehicles due to the strike was avoidable, the insurance company would not be willing to cover the costs of damage because of the strike.
SA Transport Workers Union spokesman Vincent Masoga condemned attacks on small transportoperations.
He said the union had asked metro police officers not to allow delivery trucks into areas where workers were marching.
"We have spoken to workers but there is always a criminal element which we seek to isolate. It cannot be correct that small emerging business people are victims of the strike," said Masoga.