By Patrick O’Leary
FleetWatch has been receiving numerous calls and messages from operators asking whether or not there is truth to the call for a 10 day shutdown starting December 1st going through to December 10th. This follows last weeks’ shutdown. These calls have been sparked by a social media post which has been doing the rounds over the past week calling for such a shutdown. The notice reads as follows; (reproduced here as received)…
“Another national shutdown SA drivers: Notice to all truck driver’s within the Republic of South Africa we have come to a new decision to have another national shutdown in the trucking industry in support of the unemployed truck driver’s. On the 1 to 10 December we no truck will be on the road. This is a call from the drivers after the collapse of the consultation of the stake holders on the issues of foreigners in the truck industry. WE are not xenophobic. We are fighting for the rights of the citizens. We call all drivers to be safe and park their vehicles on safe place until 11th in the morning. Together we can. For any information contact all truck driver’s organization”.
Given that the note stated: “For any information contact all truck driver’s organization” (name is wrong as it is the All Truck Drivers Forum – ATDF), I contacted the secretary of the ATDF, Sifiso Nyathi, to ask if the call came from the ATDF. He denies it.
“We are distancing ourselves from this shutdown. It is not from the ATDF and we don’t know where it comes from. It’s a lie. Whoever wrote this is not from us. And anyone could have written it. Maybe it’s people with their own interests.” Obviously referring to the aftermath of last week’s ‘shutdown’ he added: “We know that our problem has been heard and that people know we are suffering so we have not called for this shutdown.”
So who has called for it? What makes it more worrying is a voice note picked up of a person translating a message from someone who stated that the people calling for the shutdown are doing so because “the government is not listening to their requests and it’s been three years now that they have been waiting for this response”. The voice message goes on to say that whoever will be driving any truck, “it will be bullets to the body”.
FleetWatch is, at this stage, unfortunately not able to confirm any further information – or whether or not the 10-day shutdown will in fact take place on the scale as envisaged by whoever is calling for it; if at all. Unfortunately, no-one knows or can confirm if it will take place or not. What we can confirm is that this country – and certainly this industry – cannot afford a 10-day shutdown. And it certainly will not accept one more truck driver being killed or trucks being burnt.
Such calls are holding the industry to ransom and in so doing, are inhibiting the potential growth of this sector where the jobs being called for will dry up. However, the statement that “it will be bullets to the body” for any truck driver found driving tells that it must be crushed at the first sign of protest.
What we are all looking for is sustainable peace and growth and for that to happen, negotiations between all parties must be speeded up and worked on. To attack more trucks and bring the industry – and indeed the country – to its knees is not the way to go. It will achieve nothing but heartache, chaos and more “bullets to the body”. Police are aware of this latest shutdown call and are on high alert.