Road and Freight Inter-Ministerial Committee signs and unveil 11-point action plan to deal with blockages and recruitment of foreign nationals

The Road and Freight Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) in partnership with the road and freight industry stakeholders have agreed on an eleven-point Action Plan to deal with industry challenges and the recruitment of foreign nationals.

The Road and Freight Inter-Ministerial Committee at the weekend met in Pretoria with industry players that included amongst others, the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu), the industry Bargaining Council, the All Truck Drivers Alliance (ATDF), and the Transport Association of South Africa (TASA). All the parties signed an agreement committing to the plan.

The IMC includes Minister of Employment and Labour; Minister of Transport; Minister of Police; and Minister of Home Affairs.

Delivering a joint task team statement at a media briefing held at the National Transport Department in Pretoria, Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi said the meeting was a joint effort to mitigate the problems afflicting the industry and find a solution. Nxesi said the Action Plan derives from a culmination of a series of meetings held with the industry and will form part of a blue print to be announced once approved by all parties.

The Implementation Plan consists of the following actions:

Facilitate the appointment of the task team;

Enforcement of the VISA requirements;

Need for consideration of all foreign driving licenses;

Registration and compliance with labour laws;

Registration of operators in term of Section 45 of the National Road Traffic Act (NRTA);

Review of the Traffic Register Number;

Review of the Cross-Border Road Transport Legislation;

Amendment of the National Road Traffic Regulation;

Integrated joint multi-disciplinary law enforcement operations;

Implement Driver Training Programme; and

Consideration of the introduction of Operating Licenses for the industry.

Minister Nxesi issued a caution that non-compliance cannot be allowed to displace of South Africans in the labour market. He said: “We cannot allow the introduction of slave employment practices. We are going to be very hard going forward”.

The IMC was formed to deal with escalating road blockages and protests by disgruntled South Africa truck drivers, because it is felt that these protests and blockages have adverse impacts on mobility, scares foreign investors and most importantly very negatively impacts on the economy and essential supply chains using affected corridors.

The protests have been a response by truck drivers based on their perceptions that the industry was employing foreign truck drivers at the exclusion of South African drivers on a pretext of a scarcity of skilled truck drivers in South Africa.

The IMC has formed a task team constituting Directors-General from the four Departments respective department affected. The task team is charged with conducting research work and plot a plan of action for the resolution of the challenges affecting the industry and report to the IMC.

Nxesi said: “Both the Department of Employment and Labour and the Department of Home Affairs have reported that while some operators have asserted that South Africa lacks skilled truck drivers, the inspections and law enforcement operations have found that truck driving was an abundant skill in South Africa and therefore not a scarce skill as purported by some operators.

“The Department of Home Affairs reported they had conducted over 21 joint multi-disciplinary law enforcement operations and inspections to assess the extent of use of foreign and at times illegal truck drivers”.

Nxesi told the briefing that Operation Dudula turned up during the weekend meeting and were asked to recuse themselves because it was an industry issue. The IMC was planning to host a separate meeting with the members of the Operation Dudula this week.

Police Minister Bheki Cele warned employers that they will now be arrested for employing illegal immigrants.

Source: Government of South Africa