IS THIS A DECLARATION OF WAR AGAINST TRUCKERS?
By Patrick O’Leary, Editor, FleetWatch
Nov 20th – 01h50: Total mayhem broke out on the N3, R103, R23 and R550 around the Heidelberg area tonight with approximately 20 trucks totally destroyed after being petrol bombed by, well, that’s the million dollar question. This, by all measures, was a well-planned and coordinated campaign with all attacks having started at around 10.15pm with trucks on four major freeways being hit at the same time. That doesn’t speak of random service delivery protests. As I write this, word has come through of another truck being set alight in the Mapleton area of Vosloorus on the N3 so it seems that the attackers have moved north on the N3. While no organisation has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks – which is highly unlikely given the fact that such a campaign can be classified as terrorist attacks against the transport industry and the economy and as such, an admittance of responsibility will be an admission of guilt – the fact remains that this can no longer be regarded as protest action; no matter what the cause of the protest. This is a declaration of war against truckers and the economy which has been well planned over multiple levels. So what is the agenda and who is setting the agenda? This goes deeper than protests against the employment of foreign drivers. This is bloody war man! Who knows but what we do know is that it is not up to the trucking industry to find out. It is up to the Government and the SAPS to get to the bottom of this – not through words but through decisive action that will serve to protect the trucking industry while it goes about its task of keeping the wheels of the economy moving. Given the dismal performance of rail, the trucking industry is the only sector that is keeping the economy moving and yet it is being hammered on all sides; tonight’s attacks being just one. Thank goodness no report has been received of any driver being killed in tonight’s attacks – there have been drivers killed in previous attacks. While the total losses will only be chalked up later, many millions of Rands have been lost tonight – and the industry cannot afford such losses while it struggles to recover from the Covid-19 lockdowns. South Africa cannot afford such losses. In a recent Letter from the Desk of the President, Cyril Ramaphosa wrote: “Now we are in a transition from relief to recovery. The emergency measures we put in place have laid a firm foundation on which to rebuild our economy. As our focus now shifts to the implementation of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, our priority will be to stimulate growth and create jobs.” Well Mr Ramaphosa, tonight’s attacks on trucks make a mockery of your words for instead of stimulating growth and creating jobs, such attacks stymy growth and destroy jobs. It is time for you Mr President, and your other responsible Ministers, to step up to the plate and take charge. The trucking industry needs to be protected and it is not the job of the industry to do so as it is currently trying to do against great odds. Tonight’s attacks can be seen as a declaration of war against truckers and given the vital role the trucking industry plays in the economy, a declaration of war against the economy. Take a look at the accompanying pictures and tell me if I’m exaggerating. That’s a war zone and it is the Government’s job to fight the war, not the truckers. Or maybe not! Maybe the truckers should do it themselves by voluntary stopping all trucks just as these trucks were stopped tonight. Maybe it’s time to make a stand. The twenty or so trucks destroyed in tonight’s attacks will be a drop in the ocean compared to the total destruction of the economy when all trucks stop. Maybe it’s time to make that stand. I can assure you Mr President, that many truckers are willing to do so. It’s getting to that point.