Mbalula says government will address protesting truck drivers' concerns
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has promised the government will address concerns raised by truck drivers who blockaded national roads.
The drivers were protesting over the employment of truck drivers and also issues relating to professional driving permits.
“We have made a firm commitment to address these matters in a manner that ensures the sustainability of our interventions. Some of these interventions may require a longer runway as these may require legislative amendments,” said Mbalula at a media briefing in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
He said the government had met protesting truck drivers and small truck operators who had blockaded the N9 and the N10 highways outside Middelburg in the Eastern Cape.
“From the engagements, the issue of the employment of foreign nationals featured strongly in their demands. We have equally taken note of the allegation that employers take advantage of the lack of clarity in our regulations insofar as this relates to foreign nationals making use of professional driving permits issued in their respective countries to drive in SA,” said Mbalula.
Mbalula said they were also aware of a similar blockade on the N3 near Montrose in the Free State on Tuesday.
The following are commitments the government is putting place to address the concerns raised by the truck drivers:
An amendment to the Road Traffic Act Regulations, which incorporates a provision that a professional driving permit issued by a foreign country will only be applicable to a vehicle registered in that country. Once this regulation comes into effect, a foreign national will therefore not be permitted to drive a South African-registered truck using a foreign professional driving permit. The amendments to the regulations are now before parliament for comment as required by law, and the government anticipates publishing amended regulations by the end of November 2021.
- Enhance existing joint law-enforcement operations between the SAPS, the department of employment & labour, the department of home affairs and the Road Traffic Management Corporation.
- Strengthen the process of validation and verification of immigration documents, work permits and foreign drivers’ licences. In the case of drivers’ licences, a synchronised process between countries is proposed. This will ensure that operators are accorded the same treatment in the dispatching and receiving countries, and
- The National Road Traffic Act requires foreign operators to make use of an operator permit/card. The rationale for such a provision is to enable the government to manage situations where an operator does not follow the relevant laws in SA. These cards will have a one-year validity period and non-compliance with relevant laws will result in the deregistration of the operator in question.