Home Fleetwatch 2022 NBCRFLI urges for well-being of truck drivers to become a priority

NBCRFLI urges for well-being of truck drivers to become a priority

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The National Secretary of the National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight and Logistics industry (NBCRFLI), Musa Ndlovu, (left), positioned Trucking Wellness as a well-established network doing invaluable work in the driver wellness arena and called for further support of this successful and sustainable public-private partnership. On his right is Gavin Kelly, CEO of the Road Freight Association.
The National Secretary of the National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight and Logistics industry (NBCRFLI), Musa Ndlovu, (left), positioned Trucking Wellness as a well-established network doing invaluable work in the driver wellness arena and called for further support of this successful and sustainable public-private partnership. On his right is Gavin Kelly, CEO of the Road Freight Association.

The National Secretary of the National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight and Logistics industry (NBCRFLI), Musa Ndlovu says it is about time all role-players in the trucking industry recognised the vital contribution truckers make in our economy and that their health and safety cannot take a back seat.

Ndlovu was speaking as a panelist at the Truck Driver Safety and Wellness Symposium themed “Your wellness is our concern”, on Thursday, 07 March 2024, at the Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre in Bloomsburg.

 “If we are to ensure sustainable prosperity for the industry, the well-being of the truck drivers should be a priority across the board. Without truck drivers, the economy stops” said Ndlovu.

He added that while talks of collaboration and amalgamation of resources to address the challenges of safety and wellness faced by truck drivers were a step in the right direction, it was important that existing health and wellness initiatives for truck drivers were given the necessary support, referring to Trucking Wellness.

Ndlovu used the platform to highlight the contribution NBCRFLI has made – and continues to make – towards the health and wellness of truck drivers through Trucking Wellness and the affordable health insurance benefit administered on behalf of Council by health care provider, Affinity Health.

Trucking Wellness, formerly known as Trucking Against AIDS, has made significant progress in the fight against HIV&AIDS in the Road Freight and Logistics industry, especially among long- distance truck drivers, commercial sex workers and those at risk such as driver spouses and partners.

The Trucking Wellness initiative is funded by the NBCRFLI and supported by donor organisations such as Daimler Trucks Southern Africa, N3TC & Reef Tankers, as well as several provincial health departments. Seen here is Maretha Gerber (right), recently appointed as President and Group CEO of Daimler Trucks Southern Africa, on a visit to one of the Trucking Wellness clinics situated along the N3 corridor.
The Trucking Wellness initiative is funded by the NBCRFLI and supported by donor organisations such as Daimler Trucks Southern Africa, N3TC & Reef Tankers, as well as several provincial health departments. Seen here is Maretha Gerber (right), recently appointed as President and Group CEO of Daimler Trucks Southern Africa, on a visit to one of the Trucking Wellness clinics situated along the N3 corridor.

Located strategically across major trucking routes and truck stops, twenty Trucking Wellness clinics and a fleet of mobile wellness clinics have saved lives and impacted truck drivers in the health arena.

Since inception, 978 269 truck drivers and women at risk have been reached through training and education. Of these, a total of 608 860 have been treated and 91 947 have been treated for sexually transmitted diseases. An estimated 33,2-million condoms have been distributed.

The Trucking Wellness initiative is a sterling example of a successful and sustainable public-private partnership. It is funded by the Council and supported by donor organisations (Daimler Trucks Southern Africa, N3TC & Reef Tankers) and several provincial health departments.

Ndlovu pleaded with the road freight and logistics industry to support Trucking Wellness to secure the safety, health and wellness of truck drivers and sustainability of the industry.

An interesting aside is that according to Tertius Wessels, project manager of Trucking Wellness, the drivers – over 200 were present – who popped into the outside Trucking Wellness exhibit, knew of the clinics and had nothing but good things to say of the services rendered through these clinics to truck drivers around the country.

Editors’ Comment: Musa Ndlovu’s comments during the panel discussion were perhaps spurred as a response to a pre-event press release announcing the Truck Driver Safety and Wellness Symposium event as a collaborative effort between the Department of Transport and the SaferStops Association.

Without going into the full contents of the press release; one sentence stated: “Besides fatigue, there are numerous other health and wellness challenges that truck drivers face, including: unavailability of sufficient medical facilities along the route; unavailability of health and wellness facilities at truck stops”.

The words “unavailability of health and wellness facilities at truck stops” gives no acknowledgement to the 20 Trucking Wellness clinics situated at truck stops around the country – or the mobile clinics that visit company depots and other venues – that for many years have catered solely to truck driver wellness. It also gives no acknowledgement to the contribution NBCRFLI has made – and continues to make – towards the health and wellness of truck drivers through Trucking Wellness. Or to the support of companies like Daimler Trucks Southern Africa, Reef Tankers and the N3TC.

The point is that the word “unavailability” implies there is nothing out there to cater to truck driver wellness and that is wrong. The NBCRFLI, through Trucking Wellness has done incredible work in the field of truck driver health and wellness over many years and, as Ndlovu said, would welcome collaborative efforts to do even better.

Perhaps one can read behind his words the aged old maxim “don’t reinvent the wheel” and thus his urging for existing health and wellness initiatives for truck drivers to be given the necessary support. 

What is concerning to FleetWatch is that it seems the Department of Transport is unaware of Trucking Wellness. That is the impression I gained from sitting in on part of the symposium and also from the press statement issued prior to it. Or, if they are aware, it’s a distant awareness rather than solid collaborative support. Mmmmmmm!

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